January 11, 2000
volume 11, no. 7
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Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.


No Representatives from Communist Asia, Few from Islamic World

    VATICAN CITY, JAN 10 (ZENIT).- The figure of an ambassador to the Vatican originated in the 15th century, when Spain, France, the Republic of Venice and the major European powers of the time acquired the custom of appointing stable representations at the pontifical court, while receiving Apostolic Nuncios as envoys from the Pontiff in their capital cities.

    Needless to say, the configuration of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Vatican has changed considerably since the 1400's. The most obvious change is numerical, as today there are 170 countries from around the world that have ambassadors in the Vatican. Added to these are the special agreements between the Vatican and Russia, Switzerland and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. A fourth exceptional case is the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, whose sovereignty is internationally recognized, although it has only a castle on the island of Malta as territory.

    The most recent countries to establish relations with the Vatican are Yemen and two archipelagos of Oceania, the Republic of Palau and the Cook Islands. Keeping in mind that there are 185 countries represented at the U.N., it can readily be seen that the "black holes" in Vatican diplomacy are being quickly reduced. But there are still no relations with Rome on the part of geographic areas connected with the Marxist bloc -- China, North Korea and Vietnam; or, with exception of Yemen, the Islamic axis -- the most important being Saudi Arabia.

    The Vatican is determined to maintain cordial and official relations with all countries. Indeed, over the last few months the press has reported efforts to establish nunciatures in China, Vietnam and North Korea. Through such agreements, the Church hopes to defend the right of religious liberty for Catholics in all the countries of the world. As Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the top exponent of Vatican foreign policy, stated recently, the Vatican furthers a strategy that ultimately seeks "to carry the leaven of the Gospel to the life of individuals and nations." ZE00011007


January 11, 2000
volume 10, no. 7

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