Vatican Diplomacy at the United Nations. A History of Catholic Global Engagement by Roman A. Melnyk (review)
- The Jurist: Studies in Church Law and Ministry
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 71, Number 2, 2011
- pp. 455-456
- View Citation
- Additional Information
VATICAN DIPLOMACY AT THE UNITED NATIONS. A HISTORY OF CATHOLIC GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT by Roman A. Melnyk. Lewiston/Queenston/Lampeter: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2009. RomanA. Melnyk presents us with a book entitled Vatican Diplomacy at the United Nations. A History of Catholic Global Engagement. In his introduction, he indicates that the available studies “are valuable sources of historical juridical material concerning pontifical legates; nevertheless , they do not include a specific, historical juridical study of the pontifical legates as Permanent Observers of the Holy See Mission at the United Nations.” (p. 4) It seems as if the author will change this with his present study, and that is what he wants to do: “The present thesis, therefore , attempts to address the following questions: the history of the gradual involvement of the representatives of the Holy See and the corresponding development of their legal status in the newly created international organization of the United Nations (UN), the canonical determination of the office of papal legate to the UN in view of pertinent ecclesiastical legislation, the role and functions of papal representatives to the UN within the context of current world events, and the important contribution to the work of the UN in the service of humanity, together with some potential future involvement of pontifical legates in the work of the international diplomatic community.” (p. 4) The author is quite ambitious when outlining his work. Given the use of the word ‘thesis,’ we can presume that this book is the published version of a doctoral dissertation. There are four chapters in this book: “The Holy See and the Early Years of the United Nations” (chapter 1), “Pontifical Legations to the United Nations” (chapter 2), “Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See at the UN: New York, Geneva and Vienna ” (chapter 3) and “The Holy See Missions at the United Nations in the Service of Humanity” (chapter 4). Has the author been successful in carrying out his plan? The answer to that question is not so positive, to say the least. The title of the book is very ambiguous: the author uses the term “Vatican diplomacy,” which is technically not correct. Why create more confusion about the distinction between the Holy See and Vatican City (State)? Throughout the book, the lack of precision is not only noticeable, but also quite bothersome, especially since this is a canon law book written by a canon lawyer. Some other examples will illustrate this. Early on in the book, the author discusses the conciliation between the Holy See and the Italian State and mentions the “Lateran Treaty Agreements” (p. 40), while only one Lateran Treaty exists. Elsewhere, an archbishop is called pro-prefect of a book reviews 455 456 the jurist pontifical council, while such councils do not have prefects, but presidents (p. 113). Likewise, the author does not seem to know that the architect of the Ost-politik of the Holy See was Cardinal Agostino Casaroli , and notAntonio Casaroli (p. 210). When discussing the question of the abrogation of the motu proprio Sollicitudo omnium Ecclesiarum, the author introduces the concepts of “majority opinion” and “minority opinion” (p. 85).Aquick count of the names is rather revealing: three authors form the “majority opinion,” two others constitute the minority. Moreover, we don’t know the position or arguments of the author, since that seems to be important for such a study. Of all chapters, the third is the height of irrelevance. The author gives a very basic description of the various UN offices, affirms that the Holy See is represented at these various offices, and adds the names of the consecutive office holders representing the Holy See. The reader expected to see at least a description of the diplomatic activities of the Holy See in these UN offices, but the author fails to offer this information. The conclusions of chapter 3 (pp. 153–154) are, therefore, amazing. The author states that “the Holy See has been an active participant in the work and development of many Specialized Agencies of the United Nations, and legates of the Roman Pontiff make a unique contribution. . . .” Amazing, because the author never deals with the specific activities of the Holy See in each of...