The Vatican, China, and Evangelical Prudence

Recent remarks by the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, have fueled speculation about a possible exchange of diplomatic representation between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China. Unfortunately, the cardinal’s remarks did not address any of the serious questions that have been raised about the evangelical and prudential wisdom of such an agreement at this moment in history. Continue Reading »

Evangelical Challenges for Vatican Diplomacy

The bilateral diplomacy of the Holy See is unique in world affairs, in that it has little or nothing to do with the things with which diplomats typically occupy their time: trade issues, security matters, visas. Rather, the reason why the Vatican engages in bilateral diplomacy is to secure the freedom of the Catholic Church to be itself in the countries with which the Holy See has, or wishes to have, diplomatic relations. To be sure, in crisis situations, the Holy See’s representative in a crumbling or violence-ridden state can also serve as an honest broker amidst contending local parties, or a voice for persecuted Catholic communities, or a channel for humanitarian assistance. But whatever the situation, the first task of the pope’s representative to another sovereignty is to help maintain free space for the Church’s evangelical, sacramental, educational and charitable missions, all of which are essential to what it means to be “the Catholic Church” in any human situation. Continue Reading »

A Pastoral Failure

I was recently accused of (actually, praised for, but it seemed to me an accusation) supporting “marriage equality”—a slogan that indicates whoever uses it fails to understand either of the terms it combines. The occasion for this slander was, rather ironically, a piece I had written rejecting calls for gay marriage. The piece was misread, I think, because I had positive things to say about gay people and about the love present in countless gay relationships. Apparently this fact was significant enough that there was no need to attend to my actual conclusion. Continue Reading »