ROME — The historic signing of the Lateran Pacts between the Holy See and Italy 90 years ago is an important example of cooperation and peace that is needed in today’s world, a Vatican official said.
Norbertine Father Bernard Ardura, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, told journalists Feb. 8 that the Lateran Pacts, which ended decades of tension between Italy and the Holy See, shows that reconciliation between former foes is an achievable goal.
Ninety years later, he said, “the effective cooperation between the Holy See and the Italian state that still exists today, especially in these years of economic and social precariousness and more recently of humanitarian crisis, demonstrates the goodness of the Lateran Pacts.”
Signed in 1929, the Lateran Pacts settled what was known as the “Roman question,” a dispute that lasted nearly 60 years after Italy’s seizure of the Papal States.
The pacts, signed by then-Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini and Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, then-Vatican secretary of state, established the independent state of Vatican City and guaranteed its sovereignty.
Ardura, along with Matteo Nacci, a professor at Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University, briefed the press about a roundtable discussion on the historic agreement.
The discussion scheduled for Feb. 12 at Rome’s Pontifical Teutonic College and sponsored by the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, is one of several events taking place in the Eternal City to mark the anniversary.
At a Feb. 7 conference at Rome’s LUMSA University, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said the Lateran Pacts ensured that the church could continue its “role as a messenger” committed to proclaiming the Gospel and working to ensure “a dignified future for humanity.”
“The challenges today are the challenges of peace. In a world so fragmented and so conflictual, where the principle of multilateralism seems to be disappearing, the Holy See must continue to make its contribution to safeguarding the dignity of the human person and to building peaceful societies and nations,” Parolin said in an interview with Vatican News.
Pope Francis also noted the significance of the 90th anniversary of the Lateran Pacts during his annual address to diplomats accredited to the Vatican Jan. 7.
The pope said the agreement allowed the Church “to contribute fully to the spiritual and material growth of Rome and Italy as a whole, a country rich in history, art and culture, which Christianity had contributed to building.”
“On this anniversary, I assure the Italian people of a special prayer, so that, in fidelity to their proper traditions, they may keep alive the spirit of fraternal solidarity that has long distinguished them,” the pope said.