Vatican City Embassy
On July 26, 2017, the International School Network visited the Embassy of Vatican City to interview the Ambassador, His Excellency Archbishop Joseph Chennoth.
H.E. Archbishop Chennoth commenced the interview by explaining to us the origin of the Holy See. The word “See” comes from a Latin word which means “seat”, and so Holy See translates to the seat on which the Bishop is seated; the Cathedra. The term “apostolic” has its origins from Apostle Peter, who preached gospels as the first leader of the community of Rome. His tomb lays under Saint Peters Basilica, and the pope is said to be his successor as the head of the universal Catholic Church. Not only is the pope recognized as the Bishop of Rome, but he possesses supreme authority of the whole Catholic church.
The Vatican City state is a 44-hectare territory that has been a sovereign state since 1929. It has the virtue of the Lateran Treaty with Italy; Italy recognizes the exclusive jurisdiction of Holy See over the Vatican City State This means that as a unique state, sovereignty of the Vatican City is ordered for another nature (being the Holy See), and with international law, diplomatic relations are held. Both the Vatican City and the Holy See are subject to international Law. Furthermore, the Holy See represents Vatican City state for its interest, as the Vatican City state has its own juridical personality. The purpose of the Vatican City state is to assure the absolute independence of the Holy See, for its indisputable sovereignty in the international field.
There are many technical systems in Vatican City involving areas such as the media and postage system. Vatican City acts as an observer and sometimes a participating member in international organizations such as the United Nations and their specialized agencies, the European Union, etcetera. The Vatican City holds diplomatic relations with more than 183 countries in the world.
H.E. Archbishop Chennoth’s first impression on Japanese people was formed when he arrived in Japan six years ago, which was after the Tohoku Earthquake that struck Japan in March of 2011. H.E. Archbishop Chennoth expressed that he felt very touched when he visited Sendai in Tohoku region and talked to the people who lived there. Despite the tragedy, H.E. Archbishop Chennoth noticed that the people were not desperate but instead “resilient”, “patient”, and had strong “perseverance on overcoming difficulty”. He explained that this quality is a great ability of Japanese people.
Additionally, H.E. Archbishop Chennoth commented various adjectives he would use to describe Japanese characteristics. His first impression on Japanese people, which remains to him today, include the people being welcoming, hospitable, respectful, punctual, orderly, clean, hardworking, perfectionist, intelligent, and organized. He mentioned that Tokyo is a very safe and organized place with excellent infrastructure and that he is happy to live here. He also highlighted his appreciation for the Japanese cultural values, which includes not only the arts such as architecture, planting, and gastronomy, but also the patient, polite, and perseverant mindsets.
He explained to us that Vatican cultural values and Japanese values are similar in the way that people value life, family, education and knowledge. Families care and focus on education for their children. H.E. Archbishop Chennoth explained to us the importance of being tolerant to other cultures and being “open to the entire world”. He considers humanity to be one big family of brothers and sisters.
H.E. Archbishop Chennoth was sent to study diplomatic relations in Rome by the Bishop after serving as a priest in India, his country of origin. He was then appointed as the nuncio in various countries including places in Africa. He explained to us his passion for visiting people and getting to know people of different nations. He expressed his gratitude for receiving the opportunity to study and work for the pope. H.E. Archbishop Chennoth was raised in a Christian family. He explained that the ties between families and friends are highly valued in Christianity, as children, parents, grandparents, and friends pray and practice the religion together.
On the topic of education, H.E. Archbishop Chennoth commented on his belief that education should be all-rounded, and not just focused on the aspect of intellect. He expressed the importance for the development of a full personality as a basis of character and human development. As the Indian philosopher Swami Vivekananda taught, H.E. Archbishop Chennoth supports the importance of a “man-making education”. As an example, he mentioned the diverse types of intelligence that are factors of success: intellectual intelligence (IQ), emotional intelligence, (EQ), Spiritual Intelligence (SQ), and Physical Intelligence (PQ).
H.E. Archbishop Chennoth considers peace as being a gift from God, that “comes from above”. Yet he also noted that peace is the “work of man”. Peace is not just the absence of wars, but it is also the work of justice and equal treatment of all people. Dialogue between people is most important in creating this development. H.E. Archbishop Chennoth quoted Paul VI; “Development is the new name for peace”. With the development of the many aspects of humanity, with all humans receiving equal rights and life necessities, peace can be found.
H.E. Archbishop Chennoth hopes for more people in the world to interact with others across borders. As conflicts are occurring in many places around the globe, H.E. Archbishop Chennoth encourages for children to interact from a young age before prejudices are formed, in cooperating and sharing knowledge and expertise to one another. He believes the first step towards world peace is dialogue; individuals should take initiative to come out and see for themselves the different cultures and opinions of other people on the basis of friendship and mutual sharing. Even if there is no agreement, it is still important to respect, listen, and discuss rather than dispute or ignore. “Cultural differences should not stand in the way of friendships,” H.E. Archbishop Chennoth explained.
H.E. Archbishop Chennoth feels that the largest achievement for him during his lifetime was being able to meet with people from different cultures. He feels that these encounters have enriched him as a person now that he has a wider vision and understanding of how people live. He feels grateful for being able to work and visit many countries.
As a message towards students, H.E. Archbishop Chennoth hopes that students can share thoughts, opinions, and cultures to each other not from a superiority point of view but from a friendly standard. He wishes for students to be courageous even during times of difficulties, and to never forget the correct attitude towards life. H.E. Archbishop Chennoth quoted the proverb, “Your attitude determines your altitude”. As long as you have a positive and respectful mindset, you can excel in your own life and achieve your goals. H.E. Archbishop Chennoth also hopes for students to treasure their peers, and to consider them to be gifts. By developing bonds of friendship and respect, one can deepen their understandings on different lifestyles, learn positive values, and form close contacts. He also specifically hopes people can increase their interactions with different cultures on an individual scale by visiting countries and doing volunteer work in other countries, which he noted that many Japanese people are increasingly doing now.
Finally, H.E. Archbishop Chennoth mentioned the importance of believing in yourself. He explained that if you have conviction, then there is nothing that you cannot do. With the right attitude, energy, attention, and courage to try, anything can be accomplished. He hopes that humans can do good, avoid evil, and live in harmony with each other and with nature.
On July 17th, 2015, the International School Network went to the Apostolic Nuncio, Embassy of Vatican City, to interview the nuncio (papal ambassador) His Excellency Archbishop Mr. Joseph Chennoth.
Our Visit and the Ambassador’s Background (Kurumi)
The interior of the embassy was elaborate with Christian decorations and some paintings and photos displayed. Beside the embassy was a beautiful Japanese-style garden and we were able to take a glimpse of the white-colored sculpture of Virgin Mary. Japanese seasonal flower, hydrangea were in full bloom. Initially, before our encounter with HE Archbishop Mr. Joseph Chennoth, Tokyo was showered with light rain. However, by the time we went outside of the embassy after our interview, the rain had stopped. Therefore, we were able to take a good look at the garden that he seemed to have been very proud of.
HE Mr. Joseph Chennoth is originally from India. He studied in India and extended his studies on philosophy and theology in Rome. He has worked in numerous different countries, such as the Central African Republic, Chad, and Tanzania. Apart from English, he is able to speak Hindi, Italian, French, Spanish, German and Latin. Currently, with his deeper knowledge about the world, he works to promote peace as well as the Holy See, Vatican City.
Greenery of Vatican City (Madoka)
Vatican City is one of the most influential countries in the world, with a very strong historical importance. The vast, beautiful garden is the largest feature in Vatican City, covering more than half of the land. HE Archbishop Mr. Joseph Chennoth commented that the garden is full of beautiful trees, fountains, and sculptures, including the sculpture of Mary. He stated that it takes about 30 to 40 minutes to walk around the whole garden. The garden was perhaps made for the Pope, as he takes healthy walks in the garden.
The new encyclical of Pope Francis was published two weeks ago, stating “Care of Earth, our common home”. This means that Earth is the common home of all humans, and so it is important for us to take good care of the planet. HE Archbishop Mr. Joseph Chennoth mentioned that this mentality is very similar to the Japanese value of living in harmony with nature. Nature is very important in the Vatican, as it is believed that people should treasure and value what is God’s creation. Christianity teaches that the seas, mountains, lakes, and forests are all God’s gifts to humankind, and so it is important to preserve them for future generations. This is demonstrated by the Christian cultural values of justice and responsibility.
Vatican City is taking various measures to reduce carbon emission. HE Archbishop Mr. Joseph Chennoth says that it is important for the whole world to maintain a clear atmosphere. Vatican City has placed solar panels on the Paul VI Audience Hall, introduced by Pope Benedict, and established the Vatican Climate Forest located in Hungary. Vatican City aspires to set a world example of safeguarding the planet, encouraging not only Christians but all of humanity to work towards a carbon-free environment.
Aspects of Culture (Madoka)
Children in Vatican City travel to Italy to go to school. There are a few families living in Vatican City; the families of the Swiss Guards, one of the oldest armies in the world. Papal Swiss Guards were founded in 1506, and are very loyal and disciplined as they work to protect the Pope. These Swiss soldiers are single males with Swiss citizenship, who have experience in Swiss military training, have a degree in higher education, are between the ages of 19 and 30, and have a height taller than 174 cm. They have a very unique uniform of the colors blue, red, orange, and yellow.
Astronomy has a very rooted importance in the Vatican. There is an academy in Vatican City for astronomy, with members who are eminent scientists from all over the world. HE Archbishop Mr. Chennoth introduced to us that there are two or three Japanese scientists who take part in this organization. Scientific data is discussed for a greater understanding of stars and the cosmos. There is an observatory located in the Vatican City, but currently the Vatican uses their observatory in Arizona, USA.
Cultural values (Kate)
Vatican City is the centre of the Catholic Church, home to the Pope and Holy See. To preserve the state as a religious land, the Vatican city works to conducts its visitors to show reverence and respect towards the Catholic church. One of the approach is the very clear dress code the church requires the tourists when entering the Vatican city. The appropriate dress for the Vatican state is to have shoulders and knees covered, applying to both men and women. Wearing shirts with violet graphic printed, and putting on excessive jewelries are banned as it does not match the religious manner. The use of mobile phones is also prohibited, as Father Federico Lombardi, the Pope’s spokesman, stated in nov 2008 :“There is an interior and spiritual dimension of life that must be guarded and nourished.” This rule significant to keep the holy sea a place for an individual to have a moment of silence in a sacred atmosphere.
Along with the idea to preserve the holy sea, the cultural values of the people in Vatican are based on the beliefs of the Christianity. They centrally cherish freedom, human dignity, solidarity, friendship, and equality, the ideas towards building peace treasured by the Catholic belief. Every person in Vatican shows the same dignity throughout the whole state. To take these cultural values in action, one of the most important objective as human being is to take care of others. His Excellency Archbishop Mr. Joseph Chennoth stated in the interview to take good care especially to those who are weak, poor, in segregation and the disabled. Vatican City itself, as a nation does not have any economic or military interest. Instead, the state cherishes religious and spiritual motivations, valuing the of spiritual and moral thoughts of human beings. Although Vatican City is a very small state in size, it is a place with pure peace and sacredness that is necessary for the world in order to maintain peace.
World peace is what people throughout the globe have been looking forward to for many centuries. However, without the understanding of how peace is essential, people would not move towards accomplishing peace. This is why vatican contentious to preach peace, the main purpose for the holy sea and Vatican. The prayer “May peace prevail on Earth” is to wish for a place where smiles and happiness are shared equally among the globe. As an ambassador and an archbishop, HE Mr. Joseph Chennoth is especially responsible to bring peace to all the people in the world. To share peace brought by the christ to all people in the world. As a step for world peace, the pope continues to speak for moral authority for the whole humanity. He asks for understanding the need for solidarity and friendship.
Exploring Japan and Its People (Kurumi)
In 1582, four young Japanese boys were sent from Nagasaki to Europe by a Japanese Christian Lord Ōtomo Sōrin. They were presented to the Pope and kings as the Tenshō Embassy. They went to Lisbon, Madrid, Florence, and Rome in order to learn more about Christianity and spread the ideas to Japan.
HE Archbishop Mr. Joseph Chennoth feels that the actions the young men took to understand and expand the knowledge of what they believe in, is an example of how open-minded and adventurous Japanese people are. He believes that this action represents Japanese people’s desire to discover the world and how they are open to know about more things. He said that they have the ability to assimilate into a new society and build onto them. HE Archbishop Mr. Joseph Chennoth has a very good impression of Japanese people. He mentioned that Japanese people are nice, hospitable, and hardworking. He especially likes the idea of “omotenashi (to welcome guests wholeheartedly)” and the spirit of sacrifice that he feels that many Japanese people have.
HE Archbishop Mr. Joseph Chennoth hopes that Japanese people understand that the Pope works to promote education, justice, and peace throughout the world. “The Pope was appointed by Jesus Christ and he is the one who represents the message that comes from Jesus. He is the messenger for core,” he says. “The universal message is that there is one common father. We are all brothers and sisters. We love and help one another, especially the ones who are in need of our help.”
HE Archbishop Mr. Joseph Chennoth wishes the Japanese visitors to see the artworks and experience the welcoming nature of omotenashi. In addition, he hopes visitors will be able to see the motivation behind their nature, which is working for the supernatural spirit of love and charity inspired by Jesus Christ. This could be demonstrated by the loving of neighbors for the common good and the respect for human dignity as God’s creation.
Message to Students (Madoka)
The message HE Archbishop Mr. Joseph Chennoth has towards young students is to concentrate well in studying and to be open to other cultures. He believes that openness to different people and languages is very important in the understanding of others. HE Archbishop Mr. Chennoth himself has interacted with people in many different parts of the world, as he has learnt seven different languages. Although it is important to assimilate with different cultures, he comments that it is particularly important not to be swept away by the other cultures and to be aware of your own identity.
Reported by Karen
On the 17th of July the international school network went to the Vatican City embassy. The international school network asked questions about Vatican city to the ambassador as the ambassador replied to our questions. Vatican city is a small city. It has very few families and very few people. There are no schools in Vatican city so the children go to school in Italy. Vatican city is very important. Vatican city prints symbols in stamps, plates and others. They are very nice.
Vatican cities gardens are very big, it almost fills the state. There are many trees, fountains, and flowers. The air is nice and fresh.
TAKE GOOD CARE.
Earth is Vatican city's common home. We have to take care of Earth and the stuffs. Giving an example to for the next person. To set a good example. Care of the common home, take good care. Everyone should be equal, and friendly. All the countries should be equal. Everyone should help people.
The tourists come for selling stamps, and other things. There are many portraits in Vatican. The tourists should come to visit museums and other great places in Vatican city.
The ambassador thinks that Japanese are very kind, very nice, respectful, and the ambassador loves the omotenashi system in Japan.
The ambassador has a message for the students which are to concentrate on studying, be open to all the cultures of the world, and keep your own identity.
Before interview at the library (Chiyodakuritu Yonbanchou Tosyokan).
After interview at the library (Chiyodakuritu Yonbanchou Tosyokan).