My visit to the Vatican-Rome

The Editor of the Ghanaian Times, Mr. David Agbenu (left) taking  his turn to greet His Holiness, Pope Francis (right)

The Editor of the Ghanaian Times, Mr. David Agbenu (left) taking
his turn to greet His Holiness, Pope Francis (right)

It was one opportunity that never crossed my mind a second that I would experience, so I grabbed it. I was invited to be part of an official delegation accompanying the President of the Republic of Ghana to visit the Pope.

In Rome, the first impression one gets is that this is an ancient city and yet the architecture of the entire city competes with even modern sandcrete buildings though their technologies are thousands of years apart. Rome today evokes memories of conquests, dominance, pride, authority and religion.

You don’t need a third eye to see history written on every wall of the entire city – Rome indeed is the eternal city, compact, solid and enormously fortified. The city is so well planned that every inch of space is usefully utilized. The people are so welcoming and warm. Perhaps because Rome has become a hub of tourism if not for anything at all, the Vatican.

Perhaps from the benefit of historical hind sight, the people of Rome have developed an attitude of welcome as a cultural antecedent. For the avoidance of doubt, this article is from my perspective as a first timer to Rome for only five days.

The Vatican – It is the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world with the smallest population of about one thousand people. It measures 44 hectares, a walled enclave within the city of Rome also known as Vatican City State.

Vatican City is distinct from the Holy See. Often incorrectly referred to as “the Vatican”, the “Holy See” is not the same entity as the “Vatican City State” which came into existence only in 1929. However, the Holy See dates back to early Christian times. Ambassadors are officially accredited not to the Vatican City State but to “the Holy See” and papal representatives to states and international organizations are recognized as representing the Holy See, not the Vatican City State.

The Holy See is the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, the episcopal See of the Pope. It is the central point of reference for the Catholic Church everywhere and the focal point of communion due to its prominence.

It traces its origin to the apostolic era, when Saint Peter arrived in Rome to evangelize and help the forming of a community of believers there which maintained a significant Christian presence. Today, it is responsible for the governance of those who follow the Catholic faith, organized in their local Christian Communities.

The Holy See is viewed as analogous to a sovereign state, having a centralized government, called the Roman Curia, with the Cardinal Secretary of State as its chief administrator and various departments essential to administration comparable to ministries.

It enters diplomatic relations with States and has Vatican City as its sovereign territory.

It is in the light of this experience that I treasure my visit as a rare opportunity. If ever I felt overwhelmed by what I saw, it only renewed me to be more patriotic and challenged me to work for the common good of humanity.

I got an impression of mixed feelings – the serenity, the security, the architecture, the protocol and the infectious smile of the Pope evoked a Church that is powerful and well ordered. On the other hand I felt challenged to brighten the corner where I am.

I walked out of the walls of the Vatican a proud Catholic and a determined Christian. I feel obliged therefore to challenge all and sundry that we can also create a Vatican out of our doldrums. It takes courage to pursue ones dream, the determination to dare and the humility to admit our shortcomings.

It is said that Rome was not built in a day. It is also true that the Vatican as it stands today did not fall suddenly from the blues.

We must all show responsibility in the little things we do. Every Ghanaian has the potential to contribute to the building of a better Ghana. We must always look beyond today.

The foundation for our nationhood was laid by the toil and blood of our forebears, we have the mandate to build on that foundation. Wherever we are and whatever we do could contribute significantly to building a better Ghana.

Whether you are a minister of State or a labourer, you can make a huge difference if you do your work very well, and together we can also build our Vatican where the spiritual and economic vibration resonates in the heart of all nations whose citizens would want to see and experience for themselves something they could never find anywhere in the world.

God bless our homeland Ghana, and make our nation great and strong. God bless the Pope and long live the Vatican, long live Ghana.

ByVr. Rev.  Fr. Samuel Filton-Mensah

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