f_0016391_14189

f_0016391_14189 - US-Vatican Relations: 25th Anniversary...

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Spring 2009 The Ambassadors REVIEW 57 US-Vatican Relations: 25 th Anniversary and a New President Thomas P. Melady, Ph.D. Professor and Senior Diplomat in Residence, Institute of World Politics United States Ambassador to the Holy See, 1989-1993 United States Ambassador to Uganda, 1972-1973 United States Ambassador to Burundi, 1969-1972 Senior Advisor to the US Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly President Emeritus of Sacred Heart University Former United States Assistant Secretary for Post Secondary Education Timothy R. Stebbins Graduate Student, Institute of World Politics Executive Assistant to Ambassador Thomas P. Melady nited States-Vatican diplomatic relations have matured to a high point of cordiality since inaugurated 25 years ago. The visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States in April 2008 was in many ways a stunning success. President Bush made an unprecedented trip to the airport to welcome him upon arrival. The following day over 10,000 Americans crowded the White House grounds and greeted the Pope enthusiastically. Within months of the Papal visit the American presidential elections took place. Senator Barack Obama, an African-American, made history when he became the 44 th President of the United States, succeeding George W. Bush. The past 25 years have witnessed the development of excellent relations between the two powers. Will that situation continue with the new President? Before attempting to answer that question, an overview of US relations with the Vatican is in order. According to the Department of State’s Background Note on the Holy See, the United States “maintained consular relations with the Papal States from 1797 to 1870 and diplomatic relations with the Pope, in his capacity as head of the Papal States, from 1848 to 1868, though not at the ambassadorial level. These relations lapsed with the loss of all papal territories in 1870.” The long interregnum of no official contact lasted from 1870 until 1939, when President Roosevelt appointed his special envoy to the Vatican in the person of Myron C. Taylor. However, when President Harry Truman tried to appoint a successor in 1951, he met with a storm of protest, and the post went vacant for nearly 20 years. 1 Thirty years 1 John Thavis in his article, “Once Controversial, US-Vatican Relations Mark Silver Anniversary,” published on January 16, 2009, by Catholic News Service writes that the “traditional argument against US-Vatican relations was that the Vatican—technically the ‘Holy See’—was first and foremost a church, not a state, and should not be privileged by a diplomatic presence….[However,] it wasn’t long before most of the criticism faded. One big reason was that under Pope John Paul II, who was a strong critic of East European communism, United States and Vatican interests were seen to coincide.” U
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Spring 2009 The Ambassadors REVIEW 58 later, President Reagan entered into concrete discussions for full diplomatic relations with
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f_0016391_14189 - US-Vatican Relations: 25th Anniversary...

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