Challenges With Vatican Diplomacy

May 14, 2021
Swearing-in of a Swiss Guard

Four heads of state and a minister of foreign affairs have planned to follow one another in the apostolic palaces during the month of May 2021. The Ukrainian question and the situation of Eastern Christians remain at the center of the concerns of Vatican diplomats.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein was the first to begin the ballet of state visits on May 3. 

On the 10th, the Pope will receive Egils Levits, the Latvian head of state, and, finally, on the 27th, Rumen Radev and Stevo Pendarovski, the presidents of Bulgaria and Macedonia, planned to close the ban on diplomatic visits organized during the month of Mary.

Eastern Christians

If the head of Iraqi diplomacy have planned to thank the Holy Father for the apostolic trip made to Iraq last March, there is no doubt that Francis and Fouad Hussein have planned to discuss the increasingly close relationship with neighboring Iran, thanks to the mediation of the Church in particular: on April 27, the Catholic patriarch of the Chaldean rite, Cardinal Louis-Raphaël Sako, received Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, in Baghdad.

Tensions Around Ukraine

The visits by the Latvian, Macedonian, and Bulgarian heads of state, if they each respond to their specific issues, are more broadly part of the tensions unfolding in the Ukrainian theater between the members of NATO and the Russian Federation, putting peace in the region at stake.

In an interview with La Repubblica newspaper published on April 28, Ukrainian President Volodimyr Zelensky stated that the Vatican could be “the ideal optimal place for future negotiations between Ukraine and Russia,” because the Holy See “remains a world moral authority which always plays its role of mediator effectively.”