A SPECIAL TREATISE FROM
THE INSTITUTE ON VATICAN LAW & DIPLOMACY
June 24, 2011
Advancing Ecclesiastical Diplomatic Excellence Through
A Scholarly Biblical and Christological Roman Catholic Ecclesiology of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Diplomacy
of the Universal Church of Rome
[THE CHRISTOLOGY AND MARIOLOGY OF
THE HOLY SEE'S DIPLOMATIC ECCLESIOLOGY
IS REVEALED IN THE LIFE OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST,
CHRIST'S FIRST PRIEST, PRELATE &
APOSTOLIC NUNCIO AND THE CHURCH'S
FIRST PAPAL SECRETARY OF STATE]
Commemorating the June 24 Solemnity of
the Nativity of St. John the Baptist,
Christ’s First Ecclesiastical Diplomatic
Representative, Priest, Prelate,
Legate a Latere & Apostolic Nuncio
(“Messenger or Envoy”)
St. John the Baptist & His Long Obscured Legacy
as Christ’s First Priest, Prelate and Papal Secretary of State—
How and Why He Possesses the Divine Distinction
of Being The Saintly Patron of Papal Legates, Papal Diplomatic Representatives, Apostolic Nuncios (Apostolic Messengers and
Envoys) and all Papal Secretaries of State of the Roman Curia
The Church’s First Official Document on Papal Diplomatic Representatives and Papal Legates, Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum was Promulgated by Pope Paul VI on The Solemnity of The Nativity of St. John The Baptist, June 24, 1969— It is The Institute's Position That This Date Is Not a Coincidence, But a Divinely Revealed Ecclesiastical Diplomatic Grace to the Church
They said therefore to him [St. John the Baptist]: Who art thou, that we may
give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? He said:
I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord,
as said the prophet Isaias.” John 2:22-23
“And I saw, and I gave testimony, that this is the Son of God.”
35 The next day again John stood, and two of his disciples. 36 And beholding
Jesus walking, he saith: Behold the Lamb of God. John 2:34-36
An anointed ecclesiastical friendship, a vocation of the highest ecclesiastical order, both blood lineage and lineage by divine grace, and a special sui generis mandate by Christ given to St. John the Baptist are the mystical ties that bond Our Lord Jesus Christ and St. John the Baptist, thus establishing that permanent “legatus a latere” (L. “from the Pontiff’s side”) relationship between Christ and St. John the Baptist which resulted in St. John the Baptist being upheld as the premiere male-priest-bishop apostolic nuncio of the Universal Church entrusted with authority in the affairs of both Church and State of his time. This iconic ecclesiastical diplomatic relationship between Our Lord Jesus Christ and St. John the Baptist was established as the definitive ecclesio-relational precedent, which God ordained, should exist in the Universal Church between the Roman Pontiff and his papal legates and pontifical diplomatic representatives. In the biblical relationship between St. John the Baptist and Christ we see the establishment of the sui generis institutional bond of spiritual and ecclesiastical grace and of shared mission apostolate that must, and today, does exist between the Roman Pontiff and the Papal Secretary of State, appointed by the Vicar of Christ. Heretofore, Roman Curial officials speaking on behalf of the Magisterium of the Church have held that the evolution of the Church’s ecclesiastical diplomatic tradition of papal representation “may never be clearly or precisely defined.” However, it is the Institute’s conviction that Sacred Scripture demonstrates the contrary in bequeathing to the Church the life and legacy of St. John the Baptist. Heretofore the Magisterium has egregiously failed to acknowledge the biblical, Christological and ecclesiological origin of the Church’s ecclesiastical diplomatic tradition in the life of St. John the Baptist. It is the Institute’s conviction that this indeed is the exact bequest of God to the Church of the exalted dignity of St. John the Baptist and his “legate a latere” institutional bond of high ecclesiastical diplomatic grace with Our Lord Jesus Christ—to establish and officially constitute the excellent inheritance and legacy of the institutional bond of divinely ordained ecclesiastical grace, fidelity and collegial friendship that must exist between Christ‘s successors and their papal secretaries of state, and with them the pontifical diplomatic representatives and papal legates that represent the Christological mandate and monarchy of the Roman Pontiff in the Church and in the world.
The highest illustration of the exalted dignity of St. John the Baptist as conveyed in his baptism of Christ must be contemplated and understood in extended correlation to the Roman Curia in the Office of the Camerlengo of the Apostolic Camera, or in his absence the Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, who upon the death of a Roman Pontiff and the election (or ordination) of a new pontiff are endowed with the highest authority in the Church. For his day, St. John the Baptist was himself the embodiment of the divine origin of all these sacred traditions, offices and institutional ecclesiastical ministries of the pontifical apostolate that would evolve and development into the Roman Curia superlatively embodied in the one person of the Papal Secretary of State— the highest ranking member of the Roman Curia second only in rank to the Pope, the Vicar of Christ. Upon the election and ordination of a new “Vicar of Christ,” the Cardinal Dean, in replication of the role of St. John the Baptist, the original “Precursor” and “Announcer of Christ,” publicly shouts and proclaims, “Nuntio vobis gaudium magnum: Habemus Papem!” (“I announce to you tidings of great joy! We have a Pope, the Most Reverend Lord Cardinal…..”). These are the words and actions that echo out and point to Christ’s new Vicar, as a near direct correlation to the ministry of St. John the Baptist as “the Voice” crying out and boldly announcing, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” Only in the centuries after the death of Christ these words of joy are now proclaimed by another appointed “Precursor” holding the exalted dignity of priest and Cardinal-prelate, and are directed to the Vicar of Christ, the Roman Pontiff, who takes upon himself the ecclesiastical authority, power, sufferance, legacy and pastoral apostolate of governance, teacher and legislator of St. Peter, Christ’s first successor on earth. The Magisterium must affirm the correlation of these Christological events.
Our Lord Jesus Christ strategically and powerfully confirmed the truth of this ecclesiological wisdom, acquired as a gift of divine grace, by ordaining that the Church’s first official pontifical document addressing the ministerial duties, functions, role and nature of the Church’s papal legates and pontifical ecclesiastical diplomatic representatives, significant in its publication form as an apostolic letter classified as a Motu Propio (L.“on his own impulse”), should be promulgated by the sovereign, Vicar of Christ Pope Paul VI, and personally and infallibly signed by him on the very same liturgical date in the Universal Church that commemorates the Birth of St. John the Baptist, June 24. The fact that the date of the Motu Propio, Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum is dated the same date that the Universal Church commemorates the solemn liturgical birthdate of St. John the Baptist must, in the holy light of grace and divine illumination, be received, in the order of nature and in the order of grace, as a sacred imprimatur of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the founder of the Roman Catholic Church, on the conclusions drawn forth in this short treatise of biblical and Christological Roman Catholic diplomatic ecclesiology, of which the Universal Church heretofore has been egregiously deprived. The Magisterium’s official affirmation of the biblical, Christological and ecclesiological diplomatic significance of the life and legacy of St. John the Baptist is a critical imperative for the Magisterium since it dually, legitimately and solemnly affirms the Christic-ecclesiastical diplomatic dignity of both Catholic male-priests and women—his legacy therefore simultaneously confirms that the Preeminent Ambassador of God, Premiere Emissary of Christ and the Chosen Envoy of the Holy Spirit in the order of grace is the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is “full of grace and blessed among all women.” Thus, in identifying the Mystery of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Visitation to St. Elizabeth and the Sanctification of St. John as the biblical origin and Christological ecclesiological foundation for women diplomats in the Church’s Christic-ecclesiastical diplomatic apostolate we have therewith simultaneously found the Church’s biblical origin, Christological and ecclesiological foundation for its tradition of priest-diplomat, pontifical diplomatic representatives, papal legates and apostolic nuncios, which has heretofore never been officially identified, acknowledged or affirmed by the Magisterium. This wisdom is commensurate with the sacred truth of Christ’s solemn affirmation, “There is no one born greater of women than John the Baptist, but he that is lesser in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.” Christ’s affirmation of Mary’s superior and exalted dignity is a great theological and ecclesiological diplomatic tribute to the Virgin Mother of God, whom God uses to sanctify his Precursor and first papal legate and apostolic nuncio, St. John the Baptist. Thus, in the Christological order of grace and of nature women preceded the ecclesiastical origin of priests as Christic-ecclesiastical diplomats— to hold otherwise is to refute the true biblical origin and Christological ecclesiology of the Church’s ecclesiastical diplomatic apostolate given by God through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Sovereign King. In truth, the Church cannot have priest diplomats “in persona Christi”, without first having women-diplomats “in persona Maria” the Mother of Christ, who is God.
On June 24, 2011, the Universal Church of Rome will commemorate the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, a figure of monumental biblical import whose singular contribution to the establishment of the Christic-pontifical apostolate of ecclesiastical diplomacy has been wholly neglected and unacknowledged. This date is an exact calculation of his sacred nativity since from Sacred Scripture, the Angel Gabriel divulges to the Blessed Virgin Mary on March 25th, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, that her cousin St. Elizabeth is six months with child, stating in St. Luke, “And behold, thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: Because no word shall be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:36; Douay-Rheims Bible). Thus, since nine-months is the normal term of carriage for progestation, St. Elizabeth had only three-more months of carriage of the child then in her womb, St. John the Baptist. And therefore, since Christ was born nine-months from March 25 on December 25, the Church affirms, counting three months from March 25 and counting backward six months from December 25, that the date of June 24 is the correct birth date of St. John the Baptist. Moreover, to further clarify the date of the Annunciation, The Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God has herself affirmed in the book, The Mystical City of God: The Divine Life and History of the Virgin Mother of God, by Venerable Mary of Agreda that the date of her annunciation is indeed, March 25th and the date of the birth of Christ is indeed, December 25. Thus, with respect to the Mystery of the Annunciation the City of God states, “The heavenly Mistress was at this time fourteen years, six months and seventeen days of age; for her birthday anniversary fell on the eighth of September and six months seventeen days had passed since that date when this greatest of all mysteries ever performed by God in this world, was enacted in Her.” (The City of God, Volume II, The Incarnation, pg. 95).
The light of the divinity in the life of St. John the Baptist and his great sanctity is reflected not only in his being especially predestined and chosen by God to serve as Christ’s Precursor, but is confirmed by God, and made visible through the ecclesiastical liturgical and ecclesiological anomalies within the Church that attest to his high and exclusive gifts of grace, and his exalted calling and apostolate. The fact that his nativity is the only other nativity other that of the Virgin Mother of God and Jesus Christ that is liturgically commemorated by the Church and that merits the liturgical distinction of a specific date on the Church’s liturgical calendar and in the proper of the saints, is a firm and solid ecclesiological indication that St. John the Baptist is a highly privileged personage in the heavenly court. Thus, he hould be likewise respected by ecclesiastical distinction within the forum of the Universal Church. Further, the fact that St. John the Baptist is the first and only saint to have been “justified by the advanced effects of the redemption” in the womb by the Holy Spirit through the intermediary action of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Queen of Heaven while “avec l’enfant Jesus Christ” still in her virginal womb during her “redemptive ecclesiastical diplomatic visitation” to St. Elizabeth, is another divine signature of mystical appointment revealing St. John the Baptist’s highly exclusive role in the ecclesiastical development of the earthly Kingdom of God, the Church. In her role as the redemptive ecclesiastical ambassador of Christ, who is God, to St. Elizabeth, The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, demonstrated her ecclesiastical diplomatic dignity of Preeminent Ambassador of God, Premier Emissary of Christ and Chosen Envoy of the Holy Spirit. In this role The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, not only demonstrates the ecclesiastical diplomatic dignity all women possess in Christ, but she also conveys the critical share in the Christic-ecclesiastical diplomatic apostolate that is the mystical inheritance of St. John the Baptist. Thus, in the Holy Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God “avec Christ” to St. Elizabeth “avec St. John the Baptist,” these two feminine personages have the exclusive distinction of being the first in the earthly Kingdom of God, the Church, to exercise the apostolate of ecclesiastical diplomacy and to illuminate that, in contrast to secular diplomacy, the quintessential character or essence of ecclesiastical diplomacy is the presence of divinity or “of the divine,” that is the existential effect of being “of, relating to, or proceeding directly from God.”
On three specific occasions the uniquely divine ecclesiastical disposition of St. John the Baptist as the Precursor of Christ, (in correlations with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, the cousin of St. Elizabeth) is solemnly affirmed. First, in the Angel’s apparition to Zachary, the father of St. John the Baptist (Luke 13-16; Douay-Rheims Bible).
“11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing on the rights side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zachary seeing him, was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him: Fear not, Zachary, for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John: 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice in his nativity. 15 For he shall be great before the Lord: and shall drink no wine nor strong drink: and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he shall convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias; that he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people.”
Second, the divine ecclesiastical disposition of St. John the Baptist is revealed in the divine favor shown to him through the mystical and divine grace extended to his mother, St. Elizabeth through, and by the redemptive ecclesiastical diplomatic visitation to St. Elizabeth (and thus to St. John) by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God as detailed in Luke 1: 40-44. (Douay-Rheims Bible).
40 And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted St. Elizabeth. 41 And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit: 42 And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold as soon as the voice of they salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.”
The third and final time that God provided the Church with an affirmation of the high and exceedingly great ecclesiastical dignity of St. John the Baptist was at his circumcision and conferring of the name of the child. (Luke 1:67; Douay Rheims Bible).
67 And Zachary his father was filled with the Holy Ghost; and he prophesied saying: 68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: because he hath visited and wrought the redemption of his people: 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation to us, in the House of David his servant: 70 As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who are from the beginning: 71 Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us: 72 To perform mercy to our fathers, and to remember his holy testament, 73 The oath, which he swore to Abraham our father, that he would grant to us, 74 That being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and justice before him, all our days, 76 And thou child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways: 77 To give knowledge of salvation to his people unto the remission of their sins: 78 Through the bowels of mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us: To enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet unto the way of peace.”
In conducting an ecclesiological diplomatic study of the life of St. John the Baptist we find that his life and legacy models three seminal characteristics that have been the trademarks of the Church’s male ecclesiastical diplomatic representatives, apostolic nuncios and papal secretaries of state throughout history. 1) He was called and appointed a priest by Christ, the High Priest, with the power to baptize, commission disciples and evangelize. 2) He possessed his own special cadre of disciples who followed him both during his life before the public ministry of Christ, and simultaneously during the public ministry of Christ. (See Luke 7:18-19: Douay-Rheims Bible) “And John’s disciples told him of all these things. And John called to him two of his disciples and sent them to Jesus, saying: Art thou he that art to come; or look we for another?” and 3) St. John the Baptist acted as an ecclesiastical diplomatic statesman challenging the moral order of his day and in directing the feet of his disciples and of the secular statesmen of his day “unto the way of peace.”
It was prophesied that St. John the Baptist would be a “prophet of the highest,” “filled with the Holy Ghost,” and a person “great before the Lord,” who “would go before the Lord to prepare His ways.” It was prophesied that in the “spirit and power of Elias” he would “turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people.” These divinely revealed illuminations detailing the nature of the spiritual character, vocation and evangelical apostolate of St. John the Baptist confirm his priesthood, his episcopal dignity “as prophet of the highest” and his collaboration with Christ in the work of the redemption of humanity. In the motu propio Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum (On the Care of All the Churches), the official Church document promulgated by Pope Paul VI on June 24, 1969, (the liturgical Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist), detailing the functions and duties of papal diplomatic representatives and legates, he affirms in Section I, that pontifical diplomatic representatives are “usually endowed with episcopal dignity who receive from the Roman Pontiff the charge of representing him in a permanent way in the various nations and regions of the world.” The fact that St. John the Baptist is “justified by the Holy Spirit by the power of Christ” in the holy womb of his mother St. Elizabeth, we see that Jesus not only justifies St. John the Baptist in the womb, but at that moment in his divine mystery, Jesus also calls him and appoints him as an apostolic delegate, entrusted with representing him in a permanent way in the various nations and regions of the world—at that time the area being the regions of Judea.
However, since St. John the Baptist was also entrusted with representing Christ to the state and elected governments, as we see in his confrontation of King Herod, we may also affirm and acknowledge that St. John the Baptist was the Church’s first apostolic nuncio (from the Latin “nuntius” meaning “messenger or envoy). He was entrusted by Christ as a messenger, or nuncio, entrusted with the task of publicly proclaiming the “way of Christ” to the people, with urging the people to “prepare the way of the Lord,” and with alerting the statesmen of his time to “the way of Christ” in his apostolic role of representing Christ to the state and the respective governments of his time. His role of apostolic nuncio to the state is demonstrated in St. John the Baptist’s ecclesiastical diplomatic visitation and bold confrontation as “minister extraordinary and plenipotentiary” with King Herod regarding a moral issue—Herod’s immoral relationship with his (Herod’s) brother’s wife, Herodias. For it states in St. Matthew 14:3, “3 For Herod had apprehended John and bound him, and put him into prison, because of Herodias, his brother’s wife. 4 For John said to him: it is not lawful for thee to have her.” We must keep in mind that in this incident St. John the Baptist is confronting King Herod as an apostolic nuncio (priest, prophet and ecclesiastical diplomat with episcopal dignity) on a strictly ecclesiastical and moral issue, because Christ himself during his public ministry had declared marriage indissoluble. See St. Matthew 19:3-12 and in St. Mark 2-12. St. John the Baptist was exercising the moral jurisdiction of an apostolic nuncio of Christ to uphold and defend the Church’s universal domain which is the “kingdom of conscience” and the moral order. The confrontation of King Herod by St. John the Baptist with respect to his, King Herod’s immoral behavior, is within the normative context of the international diplomatic ministry of Christ’s appointed legates to saturate the world with the “way of the Lord” or the Teaching of Christ and His Church, i.e., Church Social Doctrine.
Jesus affirms in the Gospel of St. Luke the ecclesiastical diplomatic power and authority of St. John the Baptist. Not only does Our Lord firmly legitimize and solemnly confirm that St. John the Baptist is “greater than a prophet,” (i.e., a priest of God who holds greater authority than a priest), thereby confirming his episcopal dignity. Our Lord also challenges the local people to consider the origin of the mystical baptism of St. John the Baptist, which is known through the oral tradition of the time.
“24 And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak to the multitudes concerning John. What went ye out to the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind? 25 But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are in costly apparel and live delicately, are in the houses of kings. 26 But what went you out to see? a prophet? Yeh, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 27 This it is whom it is written: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee. 28 For I say to you: Amongst those that are born of women, there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist. But he that is lesser in the kingdom of God [i.e., “the Woman—the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God; emphasis added by author], is greater than he.” (St. Luke 7:24-28)
For a divine purpose God allows St. Luke to highlight in his gospel the mystical and special nature of the divine appointment and exalted dignity of the baptism and therefore the preeminent ecclesiastical office of St. John the Baptist when Christ puts to some scribes and elders of the time a question regarding the baptism of St. John the Baptist.
1 And it came to pass, that on one of the days, as he was teaching the people in the temple, and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes, with the ancients, met together, 2 And spoke to him, saying: Tell us, by what authority dost thou these things? Or, Who is he that hath given thee this authority? 3 And Jesus answering, said to them: I will also ask you one thing. Answer me: The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? 5 But they thought within themselves, saying: If we shall say, From heaven: he will say: Why then did you not believe him? 6 But if we say, Of men, the whole people will stone us: for they are persuaded that John was a prophet. 7 And they answered, that they knew not whence it was. 8 And Jesus said to them: Neither do I tell thee by what authority I do these things.” (Luke 20: 1-7)
In this biblical passage Jesus integrates, unifies, justifies and predicates His authority as Christ and as God in intimate fidelity with the authority of the Godhead that called and sanctified St. John the Baptist. Thus, raising the Christological and pontifical ecclesiastical dignity of St. John the Baptist to a new high—that of an especially exalted ecclesiastical dignity in equity with the authority of Christ, while ranking below Christ. Jesus takes this opportunity to raise the issue of the “baptism of John” because it is an exceptionally unique sui generis gift of grace to the Church that is of such exalted significance that he wants it to be singularly highlighted, identified, revealed, analyzed, contemplated, understood and appreciated. Jesus wants the Universal Church to understand the truly sui generis ecclesiastical diplomatic dignity, power, authority and jurisdiction with which God had endowed St. John the Baptist, because it has a direct correlation to the Christic-pontifical ecclesiastical foreign service ministry and diplomatic apostolate he is bequeathing to the Church through the life and legacy of St. John the Baptist— whose baptism was from heaven. But St. John the Baptist also makes clear that while his ecclesiastical diplomatic jurisdiction, authority and power is on a par with Christ, he ranks below Christ.
26 And they came to John, and said to him: Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond the Jordan, to whom thou gavest testimony, behold he baptizeth, and all men come to him. 27 John answered and said: A man cannot receive any thing, unless it be given him from above. 28 You yourselves do bear me witness, that I said, I am not Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29 He that hath the bride, is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, who standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth with joy because of the bridegroom’s voice. This my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 31 he that cometh from above, is above all. He that is of the earth, of the earth he is, and of the earth he speaketh. He that cometh from heaven, is above all. 32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. 33 He that hath received his testimony, hath set to his seal that God is true. 34 For he whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God: for God doth not give the Spirit by measure.
The irony of this biblical passage is that in his words it is evident that in the divinity of the Holy Spirit the truth of St. John the Baptist’s words are themselves serving as an enduring testament to his own exalted ecclesiastical diplomatic dignity, authority and personage. Especially when he states, “he that comes from heaven is above all,” and “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God.” There is no argument that St. John the Baptist as a great “prophet of God” was more than a priest. He was a prophet and priest of Christ who was endowed with episcopal dignity as it was and could be intimated during that time. Thus, his ecclesiastical jurisdiction and authority to call, baptize, train, and send on mission his own disciples as the Papal Secretary of State (a priest with episcopal dignity) does today. The Office of the Papal Secretary of State is the office entrusted with the task of calling, appointing, training and assigning priests to serve in the professional Christic-ecclesiastical foreign service ministry and diplomatic mission apostolate of the Universal Church of Rome for the cause of peace. Note that the select words about St. John the Baptist in Zachary’s psalm, to “turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children” has the interpretive capacity to evoke a deeper theological meaning which has resonance to the priesthood since priests serve as “father’s” to the children, the people of God— as bishops serve as fatherly episcopal-rank pastoral leaders in tending to the sheep, the people of the Church, entrusted to them by Christ and the successors of St. Peter, the Vicar of Christ. Further, St. John the Baptist was divinely tasked to “turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children.” These words could certainly also be said to refer to secular heads of states, kings, princes and prime ministers who are entrusted with the care of the “children” of their state—their national citizens and subjects who look to them for fatherly guidance and leadership with respect to maintaining legal, financial, moral, political, diplomatic and social order of the state, in the same way a father provides comprehensive order in the home. Thus, the mystically ordained persona, evangelical mission and ecclesiastical diplomatic apostolate of St. John the Baptist as a priest, bishop, prophetic messenger (apostolic nuncio) and ecclesiastical diplomatic statesman mirrors the role of pontifical ecclesiastical diplomats and papal diplomatic representatives as they have evolved throughout Church history.
St. John the Baptist as Christ Precursor was predestined and divinely ordained to carry within himself the origin of the Church’s ecclesiastical diplomatic order, apostolate and global mission and to embody its ecclesiastical foreign service mission by enlightening “them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death” and to direct their “feet unto the way of peace.” St. John the Baptist did this first in the order of the Church by his intimacy and close fidelity to the person, work and divinity of Christ, the High Priest who would later appoint St. Peter as the first Roman Pontiff. The intimate relationship between Christ and his first apostolic nuncio or papal secretary of state/prime minister extraordinary and plenipotentiary, St. John the Baptist, is the definitive Christological and ecclesiological origin and establishment of the intimate alliance, friendship and fidelity that is today traditionally found in the personal, professional and ecclesiastical diplomatic relationship between a Roman Pontiff and his Papal Secretary of State (the pope, the Vicar of Christ’s prime minister). In the same way that today’s Christic-pontifical ecclesiastical diplomats and papal diplomatic representatives work with the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ in directing and pointing the people to Christ in the work of ecclesiastical diplomatic apostolate, St. John the Baptist, “pointed the way to Christ” through his priestly words, preaching and his baptismal apostolate which he executed with the help of his disciples, whom he taught to pray.
When we read Section IV of the June 29, 1969, Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum, we cannot help but see, hear and experience in these words the biblical ecclesiastical diplomatic life and legacy of St. John the Baptist, the forerunner of today’s apostolic nuncios and papal diplomatic representatives. The passage states,
“1) The primary and specific purpose of the mission of the Pontifical Representative is to render ever closer and more operative the ties that bind the Apostolic See and the local Churches.
2) He furthermore interprets the solicitude of the Roman Pontiff for the good of the country in which he exercises his mission. In particular, he must concern himself zealously with the problems of peace, of progress and of the collaboration of the peoples in view of the spiritual, moral and material good of the entire human family.
3) Upon the Pontifical Representative also falls the duty of safeguarding, in cooperation with the Bishops, the interests of the Church and of the Holy See in his relations with the civil authorities of the country where he exercises his office.”
Further, we see the biblical ecclesiastical diplomatic apostolate in St. John the Baptist in Paragraph “X” of the Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum. It states,
1) Relations between the Church and State are normally fostered by the Pontifical Representative, to whom is entrusted the proper and particular charge of acting in the name of the Holy See:
a) to promote and favor its relations with the government of the nation to which it is accredited
b) to treat questions concerning relations between Church and State.
Regarding the exalted priesthood and episcopal dignity accredited to St. John the Baptist, we see that his biblically-established sacerdotal jurisdiction is echoed in Paragraph “XI” of the Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum. It states,
1) The seat of the Pontifical Legation is exempt from the jurisdiction of the local Ordinary. [This statement confirms the jurisdictional freedom with which St. John the Baptist [the then pontifical legation] was endowed by Our Lord Jesus Christ, the High Priest]
2) The Pontifical Representative can grant the faculty to priests to hear confessions in the Oratory of his Legation, he [St. John the Baptist] can exercise his own faculties and perform acts of worship and sacred ceremonies, always keeping however, with rulings in force in the territory and having informed, when fitting, the ecclesiastical authority concerned. [For St. John the Baptist the ecclesiastical authority of his time was Christ, the High Priest]
3) He can, after notifying – when possible – local Ordinaries, bless the people and carry out sacred functions, even those that are pontifical, in all the churches in the territory of his Legation.
4) Within the territory in which he fulfills his mission, the Pontifical Representative has the right of precedence over Bishops and Archbishops…
5) The rights and privileges inherent in the seat and in the person of the Pontifical Representative are granted in order that, by their prudent and discreet use the character of his charge may be more evident and the service he must render may be more easily carried out.
We ordain that We have established this letter, given motu propio, be firm and effective, notwithstanding any disposition to the contrary, however worthy of very special mention.
Given at Rome, St. Peter’s, on June 24th of the year 1969, the seventh of Our Pontificate, Paulus PP. VI
“The Secretariat of State [the office of St. John the Baptist] provides close assistance to the Supreme Pontiff [The First High Priest of God and the Church was Our Lord Jesus Christ whose Vicar is St. Peter and His Pontifical Successors] in the exercise of his supreme office” (Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, issued by John Paul II, 28 June 1989, art. 39)
Extract on St. John the Baptist
From the Mystical City of God: The Divine Life
and History of the Virgin Mother of God
[Book II, The Incarnation, Chapter XVII, “The Salutation
Given to St. Elizabeth By The Queen of Heaven,
and the Sanctification John”]
Such was the great good fortune and privilege of saint John, that Christ our Lord presented to the eternal Father he merits of his Passion and Death to be endured for men; and in view thereof He requested the sanctification of his [St. John the Baptist’s] soul. He appointed and set apart this child as one who is to be born holy as his Precursor and as a witness of his coming into the world (John 1, 7); as one who was t prepare the hearts of his people in order that they might recognize and receive Him as the Messias. He ordained that for such an exalted ministry the Precursor should receive all the graces, gifts and favors which are befitting and proportionate to his office. All this the Father granted just as the Onlybegotten had requested it of Him.
This happened before the most holy Mary had put her salutation into words. At the pronunciation of the worlds mentioned above, God looked upon the child in the womb of saint Elizabeth, and gave it perfect use of reason, enlightening it with his divine light, in order that the might prepare himself by foreknowledge for the blessing which he was to receive. Together with this preparation he was sanctified from original sin, made an adopted son of God, and filled with the most abundant graces of the Holy Ghost and with the plenitude of all his gifts; his faculties were sanctified, subjected and subordinated to reason, thus verifying in himself what the archangel Gabriel had said to Zacharias; that His son would be filled with the Holy Ghost from the womb of his mother (Luke 1:17). At the same time the fortunate child, looking through the walls of the maternal womb as through clear glass upon the incarnate Word, and assuming a kneeling posture, adored his Redeemer and Creator, whom he beheld in most holy Mary as if enclosed in a chamber of purest crystal. This was the movement of jubilation, which was felt by his mother Elizabeth as coming from the enfant in her womb (Luke 1:44). Many other acts of virtue the child John performed during this interview, exercising faith, hope, charity, worship, gratitude, humility, devotion and all the other virtues possible to him there. From that moment he began to merit and grow in sanctity, without ever losing it and without ever ceasing to exercise it with all the vigor of grace.
Posted on June 24, 2011, Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.
†Prayerfully Contemplated and Composed By
Serene Ecclesial Lady, HdDG, Amb. du Christ et De Marie, Dna. Maria St. Catherine De Grâce Sharpe, o.s.m., O.SS.T., CIC, Eccl.J.D.†SG of Divinity & Diplomacy in Vatican State/Holy See Pontifical Ecclesiastical Law, Diplomacy, & International Human Rights, President & The John Paul II Vatican Diplomatic Affairs & Eccl. Human Rights World Scholar & Emissary-at-Large, The
Institute of Vatican Law & Diplomacy, Provost, The Pontifical Ecclesiastical Diplomatic Apostolate of Women & The Laity (PEDAWL) and Director,
The Vatican Diplomacy Women’s Task Force & The PUBVM- The St. Mary Magdalene & St. Catherine of Siena Vatican School of Pontifical
Ecclesiastical Diplomacy for Catholic Women