Switzerland marks centenary of diplomatic relations with Holy See

Swiss soldiers have guarded the Pope since 1506, but diplomatic relations have not always been straightforward. Keystone / Alessandro Di Meo

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis met with the State Secretary of the Vatican, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, on Monday to mark 100 years of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and the Holy See.

This content was published on November 8, 2021

Diplomatic relations date back to the establishment of the Apostolic Nunciature in Switzerland in 1586 - the oldest permanent representation of the Vatican north of the Alps.

The Swiss Papal Guard, a tradition that continues to this day, had already been established in 1506 under Pope Julius II.

But ties were broken off in 1873 at the start of the so-called ‘Kulturkampf’ dispute that took place between many European countries and the Vatican over the sway of the Catholic Church over education and other social matters.

Switzerland restored diplomatic relations to the Holy See in 1920. Efforts to mark the centenary of this event were postponed a year by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cardinal Parolin first met with Guy Parmelin, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, before a discussion with Ignazio.

“Against the background of the increasing number of armed conflicts and the increasing erosion of fundamental rights worldwide, Switzerland and the Holy See have declared their intention to strengthen their mutual engagement and cooperation in bilateral and multilateral areas in order to consolidate peace and protect human dignity,” the Swiss government statedExternal link.  

This led to the signing of a joint declaration to promote peace and human rights, the worldwide abolition of the death penalty, the protection of minorities and interreligious dialogue.

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

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