Vatican Roundup

Vatican Roundup
Vatican joins international call to help Syria

The Vatican has joined international appeals to raise funds for emergency and long-term assistance to victims of the Syrian crisis.

Speaking at the Syria Donors’ Conference in London, Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, Vatican secretary for relations with states, said the Church would continue to help the region through its fundraising efforts.

In his address, Dr Gallagher said the crisis was marked by “ever-increasing human suffering, including extreme cases of malnourishment of innocent children and other civilians, especially among the high number of people who are trapped in hard-to-reach and besieged areas”.

According to the conference website, there are 13.5 million vulnerable and displaced people inside Syria, and 4.2 million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries. UN agencies are seeking $8.4 billion (€7.5 billion) to help these victims of the war.

The archbishop said religious minorities, including Christians, “suffer disproportionately the effects of war and social upheaval in the region”, such that “their very presence and existence are gravely threatened”.

Last year, he said, Catholic dioceses and agencies directly helped over 4 million people by providing $150 million (€135 million) in humanitarian assistance that was used for educational programmes, food, health care, housing, work programmes, and more.

Turkish ambassador returns to Rome

Turkey has reinstated its ambassador to the Holy See almost a year after recalling him to Ankara when Pope Francis described the deaths of roughly 1.5 million Armenians by Turkish hands between 1915 and 1918 as “genocide”.

Ahead of a Mass to commemorate the genocide’s centenary, the Pope had cited a joint declaration signed in 2001 by St John Paul and the Armenian Apostolic Patriarch Catholicos Karekin II of Etchmiadzin, and spoken of the killings and expulsions as “the first genocide of the 20th Century”. He said such atrocities from the past had to be recognised if true reconciliation and healing is to take place.

Turkey rejects the accusation of genocide, and disputes the number of Armenians who died at the time. Tanju Bilgic, spokesman for Turkey’s foreign ministry, however, described a February 3 statement by the Vatican as “a positive development” and said Ambassador Mehmet Pacaci would return to Rome.

The statement praised Turkey’s commitment to make its archives in order to improve understanding of historical events and the pain and suffering endured by all parties caught up in such conflicts as “the tragic events of 1915”.

Busy times for Vatican judges

Reforms initiated by Pope Francis have deeply affected the Vatican’s internal life, the city-state’s chief prosecutor has said, with the judicial burden having increased significantly.

In a report inaugurating the 81st year of the Vatican’s judicial tribunal, Promoter of Justice Gian Piero Milano said the reforms have not merely had legislative, judicial and administrative effects, but “also affect the level of relations with other jurisdictions to whom the Church and its institutional expressions can offer a unique and significant contribution”.

Explaining that the Holy See and the Vatican City State are committed to adopting a series of measures for implementing specific EU requirements intended to prevent money laundering and the funding of terrorism, Mr Milano said that Vatican financial ordering is now on par with that of European standards.