Obama to Vatican Embassy: Move In with Italy

The National Catholic Reporter has the story: according to senior correspondent John L. Allen, the United States intends to uproot its embassy to the Vatican and move it to the same compound that houses the U.S. embassy to Italy.

 

The embassy to the Vatican is currently located at Via delle Terme Deciane in Rome; this move would put it on Via Vittorio Veneto.  While this location is a tenth of a mile closer to the Vatican, per HuffPo, it flies in the face of the Vatican's usual policy that nations keep their embassies to the Holy See and to Rome at separate locations.

 

The Vatican itself, policy or no, doesn't seem to mind.  This "tacit consent" may reflect Pope Francis's admitted aloofness when it comes to bureaucratic affairs.

 

On the other hand, a number of former U.S. ambassadors to the seat of the Roman Catholic Church have spoken out against the decision.

 

James Nicholson, who occupied the post under President George W. Bush, was incensed.  He condemned the Obama administration's decision in no uncertain terms: "In the diplomatic world, if you don't have your own separate space, you're on the road to nowhere."  As NCR reports, several previous Vatican envoys joined him, including Francis Rooney and Mary Ann Glendon (also under Bush Jr.), Raymond Flynn (Clinton), and Thomas Melady (Bush Sr.).

 

The administration's primary justification for the move should raise some eyebrows: "an official told NCR on Monday that safety is a 'real concern,' especially in the wake of a lethal June 2012 assault on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that claimed the lives of an American ambassador and three other officials."

 

Granted, it is shocking to hear an Obama administration official mention Benghazi at all.  But barring reports of Catholic hordes with rocket launchers waving the black flag and descending on Rome, the idea that Italy and Libya are equally dangerous for ambassadors and their staffers boggles the mind.  It is in keeping, however, with the mentality that brought us the Catholic Church as an extremist organization and the Army's newfound squeamishness about mentioning jihad.

 

Nicholson, for his part, dismissed this justification outright: "We're not a pauper nation ... if we want to secure an embassy, we certainly can."  Considering the Benghazi disaster and subsequent (and ongoing) cover-up, this is a piquant way of putting it.

 

Current ambassador to the Vatican Kenneth Hackett, citing Israel, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, added in the Obama administration's defense that other countries operate under a similar space-sharing arrangement.  But Mary Ann Glendon expressed doubt about "the United States cit[ing] what other countries have done as precedent, saying the importance of the relationship" between the U.S. and the Vatican "merits its own location and profile."  Truly, it is unlikely that a unique location leaves the conduit between the world's premiere superpower and the Chair of Saint Peter "out of sight and out of mind," as one State Department official suggested.

 

In any event, with the Vatican shrugging its shoulders, the move looks to be fait accompli.  Reports of consolidation among American embassies in other extremely dangerous parts of the world are doubtless forthcoming.

 

Drew Belsky is American Thinker's deputy editor.  You can contact him at drew@americanthinker.com, or follow him on Twitter at @DJB627.

The National Catholic Reporter has the story: according to senior correspondent John L. Allen, the United States intends to uproot its embassy to the Vatican and move it to the same compound that houses the U.S. embassy to Italy.

 

The embassy to the Vatican is currently located at Via delle Terme Deciane in Rome; this move would put it on Via Vittorio Veneto.  While this location is a tenth of a mile closer to the Vatican, per HuffPo, it flies in the face of the Vatican's usual policy that nations keep their embassies to the Holy See and to Rome at separate locations.

 

The Vatican itself, policy or no, doesn't seem to mind.  This "tacit consent" may reflect Pope Francis's admitted aloofness when it comes to bureaucratic affairs.

 

On the other hand, a number of former U.S. ambassadors to the seat of the Roman Catholic Church have spoken out against the decision.

 

James Nicholson, who occupied the post under President George W. Bush, was incensed.  He condemned the Obama administration's decision in no uncertain terms: "In the diplomatic world, if you don't have your own separate space, you're on the road to nowhere."  As NCR reports, several previous Vatican envoys joined him, including Francis Rooney and Mary Ann Glendon (also under Bush Jr.), Raymond Flynn (Clinton), and Thomas Melady (Bush Sr.).

 

The administration's primary justification for the move should raise some eyebrows: "an official told NCR on Monday that safety is a 'real concern,' especially in the wake of a lethal June 2012 assault on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that claimed the lives of an American ambassador and three other officials."

 

Granted, it is shocking to hear an Obama administration official mention Benghazi at all.  But barring reports of Catholic hordes with rocket launchers waving the black flag and descending on Rome, the idea that Italy and Libya are equally dangerous for ambassadors and their staffers boggles the mind.  It is in keeping, however, with the mentality that brought us the Catholic Church as an extremist organization and the Army's newfound squeamishness about mentioning jihad.

 

Nicholson, for his part, dismissed this justification outright: "We're not a pauper nation ... if we want to secure an embassy, we certainly can."  Considering the Benghazi disaster and subsequent (and ongoing) cover-up, this is a piquant way of putting it.

 

Current ambassador to the Vatican Kenneth Hackett, citing Israel, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, added in the Obama administration's defense that other countries operate under a similar space-sharing arrangement.  But Mary Ann Glendon expressed doubt about "the United States cit[ing] what other countries have done as precedent, saying the importance of the relationship" between the U.S. and the Vatican "merits its own location and profile."  Truly, it is unlikely that a unique location leaves the conduit between the world's premiere superpower and the Chair of Saint Peter "out of sight and out of mind," as one State Department official suggested.

 

In any event, with the Vatican shrugging its shoulders, the move looks to be fait accompli.  Reports of consolidation among American embassies in other extremely dangerous parts of the world are doubtless forthcoming.

 

Drew Belsky is American Thinker's deputy editor.  You can contact him at drew@americanthinker.com, or follow him on Twitter at @DJB627.