The Philippine government recently marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the country’s diplomatic relations with the Holy See. The milestone was celebrated through a virtual event with top diplomats and church officials.
In a message, Grace Relucio-Princesa, the outgoing Philippine ambassador to the Holy See, reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the bilateral relations between the two countries. She said there are still a lot of ways the Philippines can collaborate with the Holy See. (Read: Meet 3 Filipinos Who Work in the Vatican)
“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 retirement age of 65 last January.
On April 8, 1951, during the term of President Elpidio Quirino and the papacy of Pope Pius XII, representatives of the Philippines and the Holy See 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. It also named the first Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See, Manuel Moran, who presented his credentials to Pope Pius XII on June 4, 1951.
Through the Nunciature, the Holy See is able to facilitate dialogue with the Philippines’s civil authorities, foster contacts with the local churches, and maintain a presence in international life. (Read: Pope Francis Appoints New Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines)
This was also the reason why in the past decades, there have been a total of 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 2015 visit by Pope Francis.
The 70th-anniversary celebration was 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.”
Fr. Gregory Gaston, rector of Pontificio Collegio Filippino, was the speaker. Other church leaders present were Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; Archbishop Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines; Cardinal Jose Advincula, 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 also attended the event. (Also Read: What are the Pope’s official duties?)