The Principality and the Vatican have much to celebrate together, and particularly more so in this world full of challenges. This has led Monaco’s Archbishop Barsi to organise a visit by members of the Conseil National, led by their President Stéphane Valeri, to the Vatican. And the most cherished part of their several day visit was an audience with the Pope himself. Monaco is part of the Roman Catholic family, the Roman Catholic Church being the official religious institution within the State. Its history and traditions have always been allied to that of the Principality.
It is shared core values of tolerance, and respect for the dignity of each human being, which create such a warm bond between Monegasques and Pope Francis. There has been much glowing reporting over the visit and comments of the Pope himself on Prince Albert’s commitment internationally to saving the environment, and in particular the role of the Prince Albert II Foundation.
Monaco’s social model was a highlight of the conversation. It has not escaped the attention of the Vatican how the Principality cares for its citizens, each and every one. Stéphane Valeri emphasized how the Conseil National in its Constitutional role cooperated with Prince Albert in promulgating laws to safeguard and advance Monaco’s social model – a model based on solidarity. No Monegasque is left to solely fend for himself – all benefit from a sharing and caring society. And Monegasques, particularly the young, have roles in rowing together and building an optimistic future for the Principality. This concern for youth is a principle much commented on by Pope Francis and one shared by Prince Albert and the Conseil National.
Pope Francis’ words warmed the hearts of his audience, who were so impressed by his example of simplicity and humility – especially from someone in such an exalted office. Stéphane Valeri, who has visited before, was reportedly particularly energized over the visit to keep responding to the challenges of the future and continue to adapt Monaco’s caring social model.
Additional highlights of the visit were meetings of the members of the Conseil National with two highly-placed Vatican officials Monseigneur Paul Richard Gallagher, who is the equivalent of a Minister of Foreign Affairs, and with Monseigneur Bruno Marie Duffé, equivalent to a Minister concerned with human development. Monseigneur Barsi, who was the catalyst behind this whole “study mission”, had the particular privilege of holding a private mass in the Catacombs of the Basilica close to the tomb of Saint Peter.
Finally Stéphane Valeri presented Pope Francis with a beautiful watercolour painting by Monegasque artist Laure Fissore depicting the Church of Saint Devote.