Catholic Church

Vatican foreign minister makes unprecedented trip to Philippines

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Vatican foreign minister makes unprecedented trip to Philippines

UNPRECEDENTED TRIP. Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Holy See's secretary for relations with states, is visiting the Philippines from July 1 to 6, 2024.

Vatican News

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, secretary for relations with states of the Holy See, is set to pay a courtesy call on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

MANILA, Philippines – The Vatican’s foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, is making an unprecedented trip to the Philippines from Monday to Saturday, July 1 to 6, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced.

Gallagher, secretary for relations with states of the Holy See, is scheduled to meet with his counterpart Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo and pay a courtesy call on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during his trip. The DFA has not publicized the dates of these meetings. 

Vatican foreign minister makes unprecedented trip to Philippines

“The arrival of Archbishop Gallagher is the first official visit to the Philippines of a secretary for relations with states of the Holy See (i.e. foreign minister), in the 72 years of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the Holy See,” the DFA said.

According to the DFA, Gallagher will discuss with Manalo “areas of cooperation between the Holy See and the Philippines, such as higher education, migration governance, interfaith dialogue, and climate change.” The two ministers “will also exchange views on regional and international issues.”

“The meeting will serve as an opportunity to underscore the shared commitment of the Philippines and the Holy See to the promotion of peace, human rights, rule of law, and sustainable development,” said the DFA.

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Once assigned to the Philippines

Gallagher, 70, has been secretary for relations with states since November 8, 2014, making him one of the longest-serving members of the Vatican bureaucracy under Pope Francis. He is the first Englishman to occupy this post, succeeding a Moroccan-born archbishop who was a carryover official from the time of Benedict XVI.

This means that the Holy See’s foreign policy under Francis – who has been Pope since March 13, 2013 – bears much of Gallagher’s imprint. Following the lead of the first Latin American pontiff, the Holy See has been a strong voice in addressing the climate crisis and bringing peace to war-torn places such as Gaza, Myanmar, and Ukraine.

Born in Liverpool, Gallagher graduated from the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome, the famous school for Vatican diplomats, in 1984. He was assigned to the Philippines in the initial part of his diplomatic career.

Before Francis named him to his current post, Gallagher had been apostolic nuncio or the Vatican’s ambassador to Burundi, Guatemala, and Australia.

During his trip to the Philippines, Gallagher will also speak at a retreat of Filipino Catholic bishops at the Benedictine monks’ Transfiguration Abbey in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, according to the news service of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

The Holy See, which Gallagher represents, is the central government of the Catholic Church headquartered in Vatican City. It enjoys full diplomatic relations with 183 out of 193 member-countries of the United Nations, where its “permanent observer” status allows it to keep its neutrality as it calls for peace on global issues. 

The current permanent observer of the Holy See to the UN in New York is Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, who, prior to his appointment in 2019, was apostolic nuncio to the Philippines. Caccia’s predecessor was a Filipino, Archbishop Bernardito Auza of Talibon, Bohol. – Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior multimedia reporter covering religion for Rappler. He also teaches journalism at the University of Santo Tomas. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.