The University of Notre Dame Australia had the honour of hosting the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States and International Organisations for a dinner and lecture to explore current world issues, the challenges of globalisation and the diplomatic role performed by the Holy See.
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher visited the University’s Fremantle campus on the final leg of his Australian tour to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Australia.
Accompanying Archbishop Gallagher on his visit to Perth was Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Chiara Porro and Australian Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Balvo.
Present for the occasion from the Archdiocese of Perth was Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton, Vicar General, the Very Rev Fr Peter Whitely VG and Msg Michael Keating.
Archbishop Gallagher delivered an insightful address in which he spoke about the fragility of peace and stability, and the role of the Holy See in helping to steer humanity back to its original path.
“We find ourselves in an era defined by both promise and peril, a time profoundly shaped by dynamic forces such as globalisation, weakening multilateral institutions and diplomacy, egoism, conflicts, and the pressing humanitarian and ecological crises,” Archbishop Gallagher said.
“In the face of challenges like the diminishing sense of unity among nations, there is a compelling need for the international community to come together and collectively aim to seek the common good to address the growing challenges that affect all of humanity.”
Archbishop Gallagher’s visit emphasised the important “soft diplomacy” role that the Holy See, led by the Holy Father, performs around the world in pursuit of peace, solidarity, and the protection of human dignity.
“The Pope, as the universal pastor of the Church, exercises his soft power indirectly by inspiring the global community to champion related initiatives and policy preferences within their secular roles.
His steadfast commitment to a ‘Church for the poor’ and of ‘mercy’ lies at the heart of this effort, underscoring the Church’s role as a ‘field hospital’ for the marginalized and those in need,” Archbishop Gallagher said.
Archbishop Gallagher articulated the Foreign Policy of the Holy See which includes moral responsibility as a way of fostering harmonious relationships, upholding human dignity and the pursuit of happiness, and environmental stewardship, including combatting a throw away culture.
The University’s Pro Vice Chancellor Student Experience, Professor Selma Alliex, delivered the formal response to Archbishop Gallagher’s address.
“International diplomacy is one way the institutional Church interacts with the world,” Prof Alliex said.
“It is the crucial way in which the Holy See exerts influence on the inter-state system which impacts all human lives,” she said.
“The Catholic faith is the only Church represented at the UN, mainly as a historical legacy. This is because other nations recognise the Church’s value as a neutral actor with moral authority.”
The University’s Chancellor, the Honorable Chris Ellison, thanked Archbishop Gallagher for visiting Notre Dame and restated the University’s long held commitment to the values of peace, diplomacy, and the common good.
“With so much conflict, tension, hardship and suffering being felt across the world at the moment, it is important that we take time to acknowledge how fortunate we are in Australia, but also accept that we have an important role to play in addressing the pressing issues of the 21st century.”