Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Next Big Speech

Tomorrow marks the end of the Vatican's traditional cycle of annual functions which mark Christmas and the New Year.

Each year on the second Monday of January, the Pope receives the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, all 200 or so of them, to receive their greetings for the New Year. He responds with a policy address which has come to be known around the Vatican as the "State of the World" speech, which delineates the Holy See's geopolitical concerns (both in terms of the aggregate and the place-specific) and raises awareness of its own solutions for solving the crises which plague global hotspots.

Of course, tomorrow's encounter will be Benedict XVI's first turn at it and, as the diplomatic address is usually an ad extra message heavily influenced by the Secretariat of State, it'll provide the first substantive glimpses into two things: how the new Pope will seek to exercise his own role as international statesman, and the CDF Pope's views on the place the Vatican's eminently-regarded diplomatic apparatus will hold in the service of both the church and the world at large. (John Paul II encouraged the widest possible use of the Holy See's diplomats as arbiters for international disputes. The Vatican City-State is a politically neutral entity in international law, per the provisions of Article 24 of the 1929 Lateran Pacts which granted sovereignty to its 108 acres.)

So keep an eye here tomorrow for all that and more.