The Philippines and the Holy See on Thursday, April 8, 2021, marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two states, reported CBCP News.
Due to the prevailing pandemic, the celebration was held virtually with some top diplomats and church officials in attendance.
Outgoing Philippine ambassador to the Holy See, Grace Relucio-Princesa, reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen the bilateral relations.
She 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,” said Princesa, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 65 last January.
On April 8, 1951, during the term of President Elpidio Quirino, representatives of both parties signed their first treaty establishing ties.
The agreement raised the Apostolic Delegation to the Philippines to the status of Nunciature, with Archbishop Egidio Vagnozzi becoming the first Apostolic Nuncio on April 9, 1951.
Through the Nunciature, the Holy See is able to facilitate dialogue with civil authorities, foster contacts with the local churches, and maintain a presence in international life.
On the other hand, the first Philippine ambassador to the Holy See was Manuel Moran, who presented his credentials to Pope Pius XII on June 4, 1951.
During those years, there have been four papal visits to the Philippines: the 1970 visit by Pope Paul VI, the visits of 1981 and 1995 by Pope John Paul II, and Pope Francis’ visit in 2015.
The milestone also coincided with the ongoing celebration of the 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines.
The virtual event was also 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 Gaston, rector of Pontificio Collegio Filippino, as the speaker.
Among the church leaders present were Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Vatican’s Propaganda Fide; Archbishop Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines; Cardinal Jose Advincula, the archbishop-elect of Manila; and Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
Some officials from the Office of European Affairs and the Philippine Foreign Affairs were also in attendance.