Monaco, Jul 20, 2021 / 07:35 am (CNA).
Cardinal Pietro Parolin said on Sunday that the tiny Mediterranean principality of Monaco shows that “a positive relationship can exist between the Church and the state.”
The Vatican Secretary of State made the remark during a July 18 meeting with clergy in the world’s second-smallest sovereign state after Vatican City.
In his address, Parolin noted that Catholicism is Monaco’s official state religion, a special status that he said was now “unique” in Europe.
“A certain kind of secularism has undoubtedly strengthened in Europe since the French Revolution, which has favored the development of a social confrontation,” he said at the meeting in Monaco Cathedral.
“Indeed, secularism claims to exclude religion from the domain of civil life, relegating it to a mere personal fact. However, where the religious factor is denied a place in society, certain points of reference, which allow for harmonious social development, disappear.”
“The Monégasque model, on the other hand, highlights the fact that a positive relationship can exist between the Church and the state, and more generally between the civil authorities and the religious authorities.”
The Secretary of State was visiting Monaco, which has a population of almost 39,000 people, to mark the 40th anniversary of the elevation of the Diocese of Monaco, which is directly subject to the Holy See, to the rank of an archdiocese.
The trip was the latest in a series of European journeys undertaken by Parolin. At the end of June, he traveled to Germany to mark the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the country and the Holy See, followed by a trip to Strasbourg, France.
Parolin told Vatican News: “In fact, the visits I make are above all an encouragement to continue on the path of the Gospel, despite the difficulties. These are challenges I think the Church in Monaco also experiences.”
“Even though there is a special relationship with the state, it is true that society is tending more and more to become de-Christianized, to move away from the principles of faith.”
“So being here, on behalf of the pope, is a way of saying go forward and try to fulfill your mission, in a reality that is different from others, perhaps richer and more affluent in ways, but that, precisely for this reason, needs the values of the Gospel.”
In his speech to clergy, Parolin underlined that Monaco’s law guarantees religious freedom.
“It is a positive synergy between the state and the Church which is born of history and which, at the same time, becomes a guarantee for religious freedom of everyone, in a modern context dictated by an ever more marked religious and cultural pluralism,” he commented.
“It is clear, therefore, that in Monaco it is clearly stated that the contribution of religion to the development of society is useful, even necessary, well beyond the religion that each person professes.”
He concluded: “At the same time, it is worth noting that in light of Article 9 of the 1962 Constitution (‘The Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman religion is the religion of the State,’) the Church does not seek privileges.”
“On the contrary, she sees in it the possibility of fulfilling her evangelizing mission in the best possible way, which, as Pope Francis has repeatedly emphasized, echoing Benedict XVI, is not proselytizing.”