HomeChurch & AsiaVatican official urges peaceful resolution in South China Sea dispute during Manila...

Vatican official urges peaceful resolution in South China Sea dispute during Manila visit

Vatican Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations has reiterated the Holy See’s firm stance on international conflicts, emphasizing the necessity for peaceful resolutions and adherence to international law.

“We would encourage parties in conflict to abide by international law and to pursue those… a way of resolving difficulties and problems with the best interests of all involved,” said Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher in a press briefing in Manila on July 2. 

The Vatican official is in the Philippines for a five-day visit that will run until July 5. 

During the press conference, the prelate was asked about the Holy See’s stance on the dispute between China and several Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, over the South China Sea.

Archbishop Gallagher stated that the Vatican’s position has been clear: “Every effort must be made” to ensure “any differences and conflicts are resolved peacefully.”

Manila and Beijing have recently exchanged accusations of escalating tensions in disputed shoals and reefs in the South China Sea. 

This includes an incident last month in which a Filipino navy sailor was seriously injured during a resupply mission to a Philippine outpost within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, also known as the West Philippine Sea.

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Philippine Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo said the Philippine government shares the Holy See’s perspective “that amidst the various international challenges and conflicts, the international community must be united in preserving a world where differences are resolved peacefully and on the basis of international law.” 

Manalo added the government is looking forward to “continued cooperation” with the Holy See “both in advancing bilateral collaboration” and “collaborating on regional and international issues.”

Archbishop Gallegher is set to speak with the Philippine bishops who are in Bukidnon in the southern Philippines for their biannual plenary sessions. 

“It’s very important for us to engage with the Philippines because, through its people, the country has significant global outreach. Many Filipinos are Catholics and they actively support the Church in spreading the Christian message through their example and hard work,” said the prelate. 

The 70-year-old Vatican official has been the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states since 2014. He was assigned to the Apostolic Nunciature to Philippines in the 1990s.

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