Archbishop Gallagher in Panama to mark 100 years of diplomatic relations

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, wraps up a visit to Panama on Thursday to mark a centenary of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Central American nation.

During his four-day journey, from 1st to 4th April, the Liverpool archbishop met with political authorities, celebrated Holy Mass in Panama City Cathedral, met with representatives of the Catholic community and visited a migrant reception centre.

The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States was invited by Panama’s Foreign Minister, Janaina Tewaney Mencomo.

Visit to the Migrant Reception Centre 

On his first day in Panama, Archbishop Gallagher, accompanied by the Foreign Minister, travelled to  Darién, a province in the east of the country bordering Colombia and the Pacific Ocean. It is where hundreds of thousands of migrants embark on a journey to cross the Darien jungle as they attempt to reach the US.

It is one of the world’s most dangerous routes rife with natural hazards and where vulnerable people are increasingly subjected to robberies, extortion and other forms of violence. It is estimated that thousands of men, women and children have died during the crossing.

Survivors are welcomed and assisted at the Lajas Blancas reception center to whom Pope Francis addressed a message of closeness and support on 21 March 2024.

Archbishop Gallagher visited the Centre and met with the pastoral workers of the Apostolic Vicariate and the authorities of Senafront, the National Border Service.

Meeting with authorities and the Catholic community

On 3rd April the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States met with the President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo Cohen, again with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and then he gave a  Lectio Magistralis at the Santa Maria La Antigua Catholic University in Panama City.

On 4th April, the last day of the visit, the Archbishop meets with the Panamanian Catholic community and celebrates Holy Mass in the Catholic Cathedral of the Panamanian capital.