On Thursday, April 8, 2021, the Philippines and the Holy See marked the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations through a virtual celebration.
Grace Relucio-Princesa, outgoing Philippine ambassador to the Holy See reaffirmed the nation’s commitment to further strengthen the bilateral relations. She also assured the government’s continued partnership with the Church because “there’s really room for engagement”.
“Let the Philippine embassy in the Vatican start this: diplomacy for humanity, diplomacy for the common good, and one of this is migration,” Princesa said.
It was on April 8, 1951, during the term of President Elpidio Quirino, that representatives from both parties signed their first treaty establishing ties. The agreement raised the Holy See’s Apostolic Delegation to the Philippines to the status of Apostolic Nunciature.
Through the Nunciatures, the Vatican News explained, the Holy See can facilitate dialogue with the civil authorities, foster contacts with the local Churches and maintain a presence in international life.
Archbishop Egidio Vagnozzi became the first Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, appointed on April 9, 1951.
As fruit of the 70 years of friendship, the Vatican News said, there have been four papal visits to the Philippines: Visit by Pope Paul VI (1970), Visit by Pope John Paul II (1981 and 1995), Visit of Pope Francis (2015).
The virtual event was highlighted with a webinar titled “70 years of Philippine-Holy See bilateral relations: Reflections on the Filipino religious diaspora, and its impact on the overseas Filipino diaspora and the contribution of the Church towards their social-pastoral care” with Fr. Gregory Ramon Gaston, rector of Pontificio Collegio Filippino as the moderator.
Among the participants who attended the celebration were Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; Archbishop Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines; Cardinal Jose Advincula, Archbishop of Manila; and Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Some officials from the Office of European Affairs and the Philippine Foreign Affairs were also in attendance. (Jheng Prado/RCAM-AOC)