Federal Councilor Ignazio Cassis officially opened the Swiss Embassy to the Holy See on Wednesday. The representation, which will also take care of relations with Malta and San Marino, must “enable the pursuit of fundamental common goals.”
The Swiss Foreign Minister made a historical reminder: “In 1597, the Apostolic Nunciature of Lucerne was one of the first to be established beyond the Alps - and it was also the second foreign representation to be opened in Switzerland.” For its part, Switzerland has only been represented at the Holy See since 1991.
The native of Ticino recalled that, from 1873 to 1920, diplomatic relations with the Holy See were interrupted within the framework of the “Kulturkampf,” only to resume under the impetus of another federal councilor from Ticino, Giuseppe Motta. “It is a great honor for me, 103 years later, to come full circle in history by opening the embassy,” he concluded.
Last May, the Vatican's representative for foreign affairs, Msgr. Paul Gallagher, already inaugurated with Cassis, then president of the Swiss Confederation, access to the building on Via Crescenzio. In September, the embassy began operating transitionally in Piazza del Popolo in central Rome, before moving to its current location.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs signed an act of opening with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Vatican. Parolin, who also blessed the premises, underlined the friendly relations between Switzerland and the Holy See. He particularly praised the Swiss Guard, which has been the popes' military protection troop since 1506.
This opening is an opportunity to recall some figures: 33.7% of Swiss residents claim to be Roman Catholic, while 21.8% belong to Protestant churches.