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Rome Reports

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An inside look at the workings of Vatican diplomacy

At just over 120 acres, Vatican City State is the world’s smallest country. Outside of its walls, diplomats representing the Holy See offer the Church’s perspective and contribution on important global issues.

Drawing from inside sources, and career of field reporting, Victor Gaetan lays out the Church's unique role on the international stage in his new book, “God's Diplomats: Pope Francis, Vatican Diplomacy, and America's Armageddon.”  

So how can such a small State play such an big role on the international stage?

Author, “God's Diplomats”
"It is moral authority, it is that higher authority, that is recognized by all governments around the world and that gives that expressive power, or soft power, to Vatican diplomacy."

One such example is the Vatican's role in the peace negotiations which ended the civil war in South Sudan. The Vatican invited the leaders of the country's warring parties to Rome to reconcile their differences, and in one of the Pope's most memorable gestures, he kissed their feet and implored them to seek peace. 

Author, “God's Diplomats”
"These leaders of South Sudan have been looked at and treated by the Western powers as war lords, and put under sanctions and marginalized. What Pope Francis did was show them mercy, and kiss their feet, and that was the signal, to those leaders of South Sudan, to go back to their country and together, in less than a year, form a government which has lasted to date."

The Vatican's diplomatic philosophy differs from those of secular nation-states. Its diplomats draw upon a rich history of working with state actors which Gaetan says is embodied in Pope Francis. 

Author, “God's Diplomats”
"Pope Francis uses a specific terminology. He says, when you negotiate a conflict there should be no winners and no losers. That is so essential and so clearly expressed in those Vatican texts that have been written back in the 17th centuries."

Now, in the 21st century, the Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with 183 countries, and “God's diplomats” continue to represent the Catholic faithful all over the globe.