Recently a firestorm of fake dudgeon was released into the Catholic blogosphere when news came that the U.S. Embassy to Vatican City was, horror of horrors, going to be moved to a space that was available where the U.S. Embassy to Italy was located in Rome. The hue and cry from some quarters was loud and long.
Former ambassadors to the Holy See lined up to whine about the perceived slight they were enduring. Meanwhile, the current Ambassador to the Holy See was fine with the idea, and the Vatican was cool with it too. But that didn’t placate folks, and you know what? Neither will this blog post.
C’est la vie.
I said to folks what I’ll say to you right now: Call me when we cut diplomatic relations with the Holy See; then I’ll get interested.
Regardless of what sinister plots you see forming behind every single move of the government (they’re tunneling under your house!), this is not one of the things to be concerned about. Consider the fact the the U.S. didn’t even have diplomatic relations with the Vatican until 1984. Learn all about the history of dealings with the Vatican, and our finally opening diplomatic ties, in Massimo Franco’s book, Parallel Empires: The Vatican and the United States–Two Centuries of Alliance and Conflict.
That book is fascinating and all, but for the straight gouge on this latest controversy du jour, head to the State Department’s blog, why don’t you? Therein you will learn some interesting facts. Here. I’ll help.
In the last days, there’s been a frightening amount of misinformation and rumor mongering out there about the moving of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.
Mark Twain once suggested that misinformation can move around the world, “while the truth is putting on its shoes.” That’s apparently twice as true in Washington these days.
But here’s the truth — facts, not opinions or wild surmisals: the United States is moving the location of the Embassy to a building that is safer, bigger, and architecturally more appealing. It also is slightly closer to Vatican City.
Let me repeat that point: it’s closer to Vatican City than the current location.
Uh-oh. Here comes another inconvenient photograph.
You actually thought the embassy was in Vatican City? Seriously? Back to the blog,
Why do I need to state these facts? Because some have actually suggested that the United States has been considering closing the Embassy, or downgrading its status. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Nothing. Not only does the United States continue to respect the Holy See as a crucial bilateral partner in promoting religious freedom, protecting religious minorities, advancing humanitarian causes, and mitigating conflicts around the world, but Secretary Kerry, our first Catholic Seceretary of State in more than thirty years, is personally inspired by the Church’s work on issues from peace to global poverty, issues at the heart of Catholic social teaching.
So, if you hear or read misinformation, I hope you’ll share the truth – the facts – with folks who may be on the receiving end of some false rumors. Here are the facts, and like they say, ‘facts are stubborn things:’ At the end of 2014 or early 2015, we will move the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See from its current location near the Circus Maximus in Rome to a U.S. government-owned compound less than two miles away. The new location, which also houses the U.S. Embassy to Italy and U.S. Mission to the United Nations Agencies, is actually closer to Vatican City than the current location. The historic and beautiful building that will house the future Embassy provides ideal and expanded office space for the U.S. diplomats who do the critical work of representing the United States to the Holy See. The future Embassy will be 78 percent larger than the current Embassy. The residence of the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See will not change.
I can bet you the Marines guarding the old facility are quite alright with moving to the new one. And yes, the move should save some money too. Not a lot of money, but why is it that folks who are always clamoring for smaller government get all hepped up when a cost saving, security enhancing, move like this one is made?
Baloney, that’s why. Which is why I refuse to get upset about it. Especially when the really big news about closures was the one the military is considering regarding the commissary system. I bet you never heard about that one, huh?
I think I’ll go have another beer now, and some more Thanksgiving Day feast leftovers.
Have a great weekend!