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Diplomacy...Vatican style!

By Hugh McNichol

The visit of Cardinal Bertone to the Frater Castro is as significant as a papal visit itself. As the Vatican Secretary of State, Bertone is the personal representative of Benedict XVI and his presence on the island nation should not be ignored. For the most part, Bertone offers the position of. "Front-man" for papal activities and travels.

The fact he is the first diplomatic visitor in Cuba after the Fidel Castro reign suggests the offering of an olive branch by Cuba towards the world, through the Vatican. In the forty plus years since the Kennedy mandated embargo against Cuba, the United States has always been keen to restate it's unwillingness to negotiate with anyone that is associated with the dictator of Castro. Logic would seem the United States policy would stand firm with the ascent of Raul Castro to the Presidency. However, times are different for the United States and Cuba. The political Cold War between the ideological differences of Capitalism and Communism are essentially parts of the past.

It is time to accept the olive branch from the new Cuban government, even if it is offered through a third party. In this case, the Vatican seems to be the obvious intermediary for Cuba's reemergence in global politics and diplomacy.
Vatican mediation in Cuba should not offer any surprise for the American government nor the diplomatic corps of any country for that matter. The Catholic Church has had a well-established diplomatic corps literally since Saints Peter and Paul. The dispatching of the Vatican's number two man to a receptive Cuba marks the thawing of a long and cold winter for the Cuban people.

It is unrealistic for the embargo by the United States to continue. The political point has long been made and the expectation that only natural death of Castro and his associates will facilitate diplomacy is contrary to American diplomatic policies and global efforts towards peace. One should not expect the immediate and overt developments of the United States towards a new Cuba; however, with the presence of the Holy See at the center of the negotiations, Cuba will have a renewed opportunity free trade, political and religious freedom.

Previously I wrote that Cuba offers for Benedict the same opportunity as Easter Europe presented during the pontificate of John-Paul II. This perhaps is true. What is significant however is the ongoing process the Church identifies with its global mission. Namely the development of harmony and cooperation between peoples of all nations. Cuba presents another opportunity for the Church to employ its extensive diplomatic and political influence in a manner that is reflective of the passive peace movement for self-rule and autonomy launched by Gandhi when seeking the end of British colonialism.

The mission of the Catholic Church in the Central and South American Basin is not the moment for theological colonialism, rather is an opportunity for the planting and nourishment of a free democratic government, with openness towards religious freedom as part of the foundational cornerstone. In a similar manner, the Cuban government could not anticipate a better intermediary to negotiate on its behalf as a global intercessor than the Catholic Church. While lacking the military agenda and the hardware associated with such an agenda, the Church offers a neutral and objective point for all nations to negotiate with an emerging Cuban sense of restored independence and democracy.

This emergence for Benedict XVI is a sacred moment of divine revelation for his method of Gospel applications, as He seeks a world that is open to philosophical and theological dialogue with political harmony. Cuba presents for the Vatican the key to future negotiations with Communist China, North Korea, and military junta's of South America and everywhere else, human rights are reportedly violated.

Even the chance to promote Catholic human rights policies in the United States on matters of capital punishment , abortion, religious freedom of expression and military "colonialism" on the part of the United States. Clearly, Cuba is the key to understanding the true socio/political role that the Holy See presents to the world in addition to our Catholic theology.

The spirit of conversation and dialogue is the distinctive hallmark of Vatican diplomacy. The United States should accept the Vatican's global positioning towards providing diplomatic negotiations all over the world. After all, the Catholic Church is an active participant and neutral observer in all of the conflicts that plague the world. The are also a willing and seasoned group of diplomatic representatives with centuries of East/West, Christian/Islamic, Jewish/Gentile and many other social examples of religious and social co-existence in a politically sectarian world.

The Vatican's visit to Havana is not only an event that is welcome, but necessary towards establishing a new world order through Gospel peace and goodwill.


TriNet Technologies Consultants Inc DE, US
Hugh McNichol - Catholic author, 302 6339348




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