International Cultural Bodies

With the Letter of foundation of the Pontifical Council for Culture, St John Paul II assigned it the task of "regularly giving the Holy See an echo of the great cultural aspirations of today's world, deepening the expectations of contemporary civilizations, and exploring new avenues of cultural dialogue, to enable the Pontifical Council for Culture to better respond to the tasks from which it was established". 

These tasks include, specifically, the following:

"To follow the right guidelines and to save the specific skills of members in the fields of Curia, including the actions of international Organizations starting with UNESCO and the Council of Cultural Cooperation of the Council of Europe, who are interested in culture, philosophy of science, the science of man, and ensuring the effective participation of the Holy See in international congresses concerned with science, culture and education."

Two of the institutions with which we hold particular dialogue are:

The Council of Europe


The Council of Europe has its offices at Strasbourg (France) and gathers in its 47 member States almost all of the countries of the European Continent. The status of observer was granted to the Holy See on 7 March 1970, but cooperation began in 1962.

Instituted on 5 May 1949 by 10 founding states, the Council of Europe has as its aim the creation of a democratic and common legal space in Europe, respecting the European Convention on human rights and other reference texts that protect the individual. 

Instituted in 1949, the Council of Europe quickly saw the need to give Europe a symbol with which Europeans could identify. On 25 October 1955 the parliamentary assembly chose unanimously a blue flag with a circle of twelve golden stars. On 9 December 1955, the Committee of Ministers adopted this European flag, inaugurated on 13 December that year in Paris. On a blue background representing the sky, the stars form a circle in sign of Union.

The number of stars is fixed, twelve being the symbol of perfection and completeness and bringing to mind the apostles, the sons of Jacob, the labours of Hercules, the months in the year, etc.

The builders of Europe launched the process by founding the Council of Europe in 1949 and setting up the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1950 and the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957. These men of dialogue, who had lived through two world wars and had first-hand experience of a number of European cultures, were the pioneers of a Europe of peace founded on the values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

See further : The website of the Council of Europe and the European Cultural Convention



"Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed..." [From UNESCO's Constitution]

On 28 May 1952, the Holy See designated a permanent observor to UNESCO with a letter addressed to the Director General, the famous Letter of Three Popes.

The Pontifical Council for Culture's mission to UNESCO should not be confused with that of the permanent Observer. The Dicastery follows, according to its own manner the activites of UNESCO, by studying the reports sent by the Observation Mission and participating, at the invitation of the Secretariat of State at the General Conference and at the international Meetings of the Organisation.

See further: