(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) History was made at CARICOM headquarters, Georgetown, Guyana, on Thursday when Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community Ambassador Irwin LaRocque accepted the credentials of the first ever Ambassador of the Vatican to the Community.
In welcoming His Excellency Archbishop Nicola Girasoli, Plenipotentiary Representative of the Holy See, the Secretary-General said the accreditation provided an avenue for the Vatican and CARICOM to work together on common issues of concern.
For his part, Archbishop Girasoli said the establishment of diplomatic relations brought a “new chapter” in the relations between the Holy See and CARICOM.
“Today, presenting the Credentials is my wish to reiterate the Holy See’s commitment to collaborate closely with CARICOM, sharing in the hope that this will contribute further to the well-being of the Caribbean Region,” he added.
Ambassador LaRocque, expressed “deep appreciation” for the work of religious bodies in the Community’s development, particularly through education and for the “social interventions which “have largely been focused on the less privileged”.
He further noted that His Holiness, Pope Francis’ emphasis on the issues of peace, equality, inclusion and responsibility resonated with CARICOM which itself was striving “to build a secure, equitable and viable Community for all its people”.
Secretary-General LaRocque said that the courageous actions and statements by His Holiness, particularly with respect to climate change, were most welcome to CARICOM’S Member States “which are bearing the brunt of its effects, although hardly contributing to its causes.” As the Pope “rightly observed, he said, “developed, industrialised countries are mostly responsible for these problems and are obligated to help poorer nations confront the crisis.”
The Secretary-General expressed his agreement with the Pope that without peace and stability, the benefits of the three international processes of 2015: Financing for Development; the Post 2015 Development Agenda and the COP21, would not be derived. He added that due consideration and respect for the views of small states such as CARICOM was also necessary for the achievement of the goals of these processes.
Ambassador LaRocque referred to the “looming crisis” arising from the plight of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent who had been rendered stateless by the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court Ruling on nationality.
“What will become of these persons, many of whom have no ties whatsoever, social cultural or linguistic, to Haiti, to which they could well be deported,” he questioned. The Secretary-General suggested that there might be a role for the Vatican in a just solution to the crisis, given its strong influence in both countries.
The Secretary-General commended the Pope for his role in helping to bring an end to the estrangement between Cuba and the United States, noting that “the establishment of diplomatic relations has brought about a positive and welcome change in the dynamics of our hemisphere”.