THE CHAPTER FROM THE 2004 COMPENDIUM ON THE SOCIAL DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH WHICH ADDRESSES THE MISSION OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC PONTIFICAL ECCLESIASTICAL FOREIGN SERVICE MISSION AND HUMAN RIGHTS DIPLOMATIC MISSION APOSTOLATE OF THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH OF ROME
III. THE ORGANIZATION
OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
440. The Church is a companion on the journey towards an authentic international “community”, which has taken a specific direction with the founding of the United Nations Organization in 1945. The United Nations “has made a notable contribution to the promotion of respect for human dignity, the freedom of peoples and the requirements of development, thus preparing the cultural and institutional soil for the building of peace”. In general, the Church's social doctrine views positively the role of intergovernmental organizations, especially those operating in specific sectors. However, it has reservations when they address problems incorrectly. The Magisterium recommends that the activity of international agencies respond to human needs in social life and in areas of particular importance for the peaceful and ordered coexistence of nations and peoples.
441. Concern for an ordered and peaceful coexistence within the human family prompts the Magisterium to insist on the need to establish “some universal public authority acknowledged as such by all and endowed with effective power to safeguard, on the behalf of all, security, regard for justice, and respect for rights”. In the course of history, despite the changing viewpoints of the different eras, there has been a constant awareness of the need for a similar authority to respond to worldwide problems arising from the quest for the common good: it is essential that such an authority arise from mutual agreement and that it not be imposed, nor must it be understood as a kind of “global super-State”.
Political authority exercised at the level of the international community must be regulated by law, ordered to the common good and respectful of the principle of subsidiarity. “The public authority of the world community is not intended to limit the sphere of action of the public authority of the individual political community, much less to take its place. On the contrary, its purpose is to create, on a world basis, an environment in which the public authorities of each political community, their citizens and intermediate associations can carry out their tasks, fulfil their duties and exercise their rights with greater security”.
442. Because of the globalization of problems, it has become more urgent than ever to stimulate international political action that pursues the goals of peace and development through the adoption of coordinated measures. The Magisterium recognizes that the interdependence among men and nations takes on a moral dimension and is the determining factor for relations in the modern world in the economic, cultural, political and religious sense. In this context it is hoped that there will be a revision of international organizations, a process that “presupposes the overcoming of political rivalries and the renouncing of all desire to manipulate these organizations, which exist solely for the common good”, for the purpose of achieving “a greater degree of international ordering”.
In particular, intergovernmental structures must effectively perform their functions of control and guidance in the economic field because the attainment of the common good has become a goal that is beyond the reach of individual States, even if they are dominant in terms of power, wealth, and political strength. International agencies must moreover guarantee the attainment of that equality which is the basis of the right of all to participate in the process of full development, duly respecting legitimate differences.
443. The Magisterium positively evaluates the associations that have formed in civil society in order to shape public opinion in its awareness of the various aspects of international life, with particular attention paid to the respect of human rights, as seen in “the number of recently established private associations, some worldwide in membership, almost all of them devoted to monitoring with great care and commendable objectivity what is happening internationally in this sensitive field”.
Governments should feel encouraged by such commitments, which seek to put into practice the ideals underlying the international community, “particularly through the practical gestures of solidarity and peace made by the many individuals also involved in Non-Governmental Organizations and in Movements for human rights”.
444. The Holy See, or Apostolic See, enjoys full international subjectivity as a sovereign authority that performs acts which are juridically its own. It exercises an external sovereignty recognized within the context of the international community which reflects that exercised within the Church and is marked by organizational unity and independence. The Church makes use of the juridical means necessary or useful for carrying out her mission.
The international activity of the Holy See is manifested objectively under different aspects: the right to active and passive delegation; the exercise of ius contrahendi in stipulating treaties; participation in intergovernmental organizations, such as those under the auspices of the
United Nations; and mediation initiatives in situations of conflict. This activity aims at offering non-partisan service to the international community, since it seeks no advantage for itself but only the good of the entire human family. In this context, the Holy See particularly avails itself of its own diplomatic personnel.
445. The diplomatic service of the Holy See, the product of an ancient and proven practice, is an instrument that works not only for the freedom of the Church (“libertas Ecclesiae”) but also for the defence and promotion of human dignity, as well as for a social order based on the values of justice, truth, freedom and love. “By an innate right inherent within our spiritual mission itself and advanced by development of historical events over the centuries, we also send our legates to the Supreme Authorities of States in which the Catholic Church has taken root or in which she is present in some way. It is of course true that the purposes of the Church and the State are of different orders, and that both are perfect societies, endowed therefore with their own means, and are autonomous in their respective spheres of activity. But it is also true that both the one and the other undertake to serve the good of the same common subject, man, called by God to eternal salvation and put on earth so that he might, with the help of grace attain unto salvation through his work, which brings him well-being in the peaceful setting of society”. The good of people and human communities is served by a structured dialogue between the Church and civil authorities, which also finds expression in the stipulation of mutual agreements. This dialogue tends to establish or strengthen relations of mutual understanding and cooperation, and also serves to prevent or resolve eventual disputes. Its goal is to contribute to the progress of every people and all humanity in justice and peace.