By Vatican News
The period of Ferragosto – the Italian summer holiday season – sees Church leaders with less hectic schedules, but their work does not come to a complete stop. So it happens that, even away from his office and from the spotlight that goes with it, the Pope’s chief collaborator can find himself providing updates on topics of international importance.
This is precisely the situation of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who was interviewed this week by La Voce del Nordest, a web magazine based in Trentino, where the Vatican’s Secretary of State has gone for a few days of rest amidst the scenery of the Conca di Primiero in northern Italy.
China: an evolving dialogue
Among the most important issues the Cardinal addressed is the relationship with China.
“We are always in dialogue,” he said, recalling the historic Agreement signed with Beijing in 2018 and renewed for two more years in 2020. The pandemic, Cardinal Parolin noted, “has also affected this sphere,” making the discussions more difficult.
“However,” he continued, “we hope to be able to resume the meetings as soon as possible, and to deal with the many other issues that are on the table and that concern the life of the Catholic Church in China.”
The Secretary of State expressed not only closeness in prayer with the Catholics of the Asian country, but also admiration: “We are proud of the witness of faith they give. We hope that they will always be good citizens and good Catholics,” and that “they will also express this twin dimension in their concrete life.”
Pope’s message opens horizons to the world
Following the Agreement with China, Cardinal Parolin said in a separate interview, in response to criticism of the Pope’s openness to the East, “The West will have to apologize to Francis.”
Asked about that statement, the Secretary of State noted, “The evangelical proclamation that Pope Francis continues to make resonate in his words” does not, perhaps, always make “even his proposal, his message, easy to accept.”
And yet, Cardinal Parolin repeated, “the Pope is really pointing out a path – he did so especially with [the encyclical] Fratelli tutti – that, after the pandemic, can really help us get out of the sands in which our society finds itself and set us on the path to building a new world, a better world.”
Pope Francis’ health
Another question concerned Pope Francis’ health following the surgery he underwent at the Gemelli Hospital on 4 July.
“He is slowly recovering,” Cardinal Parolin said. “It takes its time even for him”. However, he added, “It seems to me that he is recovering well. He is made of strong stuff.” This can be seen in the Pope’s return to his commitments, not only the weekly General Audience, but also the trip planned for September with stops in Hungary and Slovakia.
Cardinal Parolin also offered words of “gratitude” and “affection” for Italian President Sergio Mattarella, who is nearing the end of his seven-year term.
“It is always a joy for me to meet him, precisely because of the high moral and spiritual stature he expresses and for the mission he has accomplished in these years,” especially the last, more difficult years, in which “he has truly been able to show the best of Italy and give very, very timely indications for the solution of problems.”
A final note concerned Cardinal Parolin’s upcoming commitments, including an upcoming trip to Lithuania for the ordination of the new apostolic nuncio in Ukraine.