In the Holy See Press Office this morning, Msgrs. Gabriele Giordano Caccia and Pietro Parolin, respectively councillor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State and under-secretary for Relations with States of the same secretariat, presented a book by Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano entitled: “Il lievito del Vangelo. La presenza della Santa Sede nella vita dei popoli” (The Leaven of the Gospel. The presence of the Holy See in the life of peoples).

The Italian-language volume contains twelve speeches by Cardinal Sodano, who has occupied the post of secretary of State for almost 16 years, serving under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Msgr. Parolin highlighted how the long period of Cardinal Sodano’s service to the Church has been “particularly complex and restless, bearing in mind the end of the Cold War, the two Gulf conflicts, the Balkans war and the outbreak of international terrorism following the events of September 11 2001.”

“The central importance of human beings as the main inspiration of the Holy See’s diplomatic activity” is, said Msgr. Parolin, one of the cardinal’s favored themes, featuring, for example, in his address to heads of State and government at the March 1995 World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen, Denmark. Another of the chapters of his book dedicates great attention to the theme of “solidarity and the duty to show solidarity.”

The under-secretary for Relations with States went on to consider a further aspect emphasized by Cardinal Sodano in his book, his “considerations on the need to place ethical values at the foundation of all forms of social structure and human coexistence.”

In closing, Msgr. Parolin dwelt on Cardinal Sodano’s concern for the “human factor,” explaining that “it is the Lord Who guides history, but He is wont to use many ‘humble servants of his vineyard’ who, animated by a great love for the Church and a profound sense of service to humanity, give body and soul to the international activity of the Holy See.”

For his part, Msgr. Caccia pointed out that Cardinal Sodano’s book “brings together experiences matured over time as a pastor of souls; a pastor not directly entrusted with a portion of the people of God, but with the privilege of cooperating in the care of the entire flock of the Lord, alongside the Successor of the Apostle Peter.”

Reading the text, said Msgr. Caccia, “from between the lines there emerges a desire to answer a question … on the meaning and significance of the Holy See’s presence in the life of peoples. … In order to illustrate this mission, … Cardinal Sodano chooses the evangelical image of leavening, … and explains the activity of the Holy See as a presence that ‘leavens,’ a ‘ferment’ of truth, of love and of peace, a presence that discreetly, patiently and silently, acts within history and the often conflict-ridden situations of humanity. An evangelical and evangelizing presence that summons everyone belonging to the Holy See always to proclaim … only the Gospel in all situations, using real institutions to achieve this end.”

“From the very opening pages Cardinal Sodano illustrates the pastoral mission of the Holy See, that aims ‘to introduce the leavening of Christianity into the life of nations’;” and stresses “the importance of the Holy See’s presence in many fields of international activity ‘to infuse the heart of modern society with that innovative ferment that is the Gospel of Christ’.”

Still quoting from Cardinal Sodano’s work, the councillor for General Affairs said: “The Church has no other raison d’etre in the world than that of continuing the work of the Lord. She has, in fact, been well defined as Christ … prolonged over the centuries.’ This is even truer in our own times,” Msgr. Cacccia concluded, “when the greatest challenges are not economic or technical, but first and foremost ethical and spiritual.”

VIS

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