What would you do next if you had successfully brokered a “Neville Chamberlin” style deal with a rogue state that wants to annihilate America and her Middle East allies? Well. . . You’d downgrade diplomatic ties with the Vatican, of course. At least, that’s what you would do if you were working in the Obama White House. The White House has recently announced that they will shut down the US Embassy to the Holy See, and relocate it to a “safer” location on the grounds of the American Embassy in Italy.
Officially, the US is explaining the relocation effort as a security measure in reaction to the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. . . Because, ya know, those crazy Vatican Catholics are a naturally militant bunch. Heaven forbid someone makes an anti-Christian movie! Whoa, the whole place could erupt into a deadly string of mass prayers and forgiveness! (Ahem… Sarcasm.)
The decision on part of the US Administration to move the American Embassy is being interpreted by many as a slap in the face to the Vatican. At the very least, it is likely to produce a tension that will lead to a deterioration of US/ Vatican communication and cooperation.
Adding to the suspicion that America’s decision is primarily political, and not based in security concerns, is the fact that the current Embassy has state of the art security. According to former US Ambassador James Nicholson, the current location is highly secure, and pivotal to continuing relations with the Holy See.
Besides: We’re talking about the US Embassy. . . In Vatican City. It’s not as if we’re discussing an un-fortified compound in the heart of a Libyan war-zone. (Cough*Benghazi*Cough) Here’s a solution: add a couple more Marines, and maybe borrow the Pope-Mobile for high profile visitors.
Suggesting that Obama is intentionally downgrading US/ Vatican ties due to some resentment toward Catholic policy would almost seem too petty to contemplate; until it is put into a broader perspective. The Holy See has proven, throughout the years, to be a monumental asset in world affairs. Our relationship with the Vatican aids in humanitarian missions, peace brokerage, and international trade with governments of all religious affiliations.
According to Nicholson, “This is anything but a good time to diminish the stature of this post. To diminish the stature of this post is to diminish its influence.” In an age where Obama’s allies in the Middle East include Taliban rebels and Al Qaida operatives, the timing seems even more precarious. When Iran feels emboldened on the world stage, when Israel feels threatened, and when Christians are finding the Middle East to be an ever-increasingly dangerous corner of the world, one would think the US Government would be bolstering its relationship with God’s emissary.
But. . . Maybe that’s the problem. Perhaps Obama is just a bit upset that the Catholic world headquarters hasn’t yet offered universal contraception to its female members. Or perhaps he’s a little unnerved about their use of the word “Christmas.” Or, maybe, he’s just feeling a bit irritated that the Pope consults God every day, rather than the White House.
Whatever the reason, the end result is the same: A sizeable devolution of US/ Vatican ties. Not to mention a marginal political fallout here at home. After all, Christians are less than pleased with the details of Obamacare, the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell”, and the White House’s general disregard for religious liberty. So… What the heck? Go ahead and insult the Pope while you’re at it.
Furthermore, the move illustrates our President’s perspective on “right” and “wrong” when it comes to world events. It says something about the Administration’s world view when they champion an Iranian Nuclear deal that lifts sanction and emboldens our enemies the very same week they withdraw diplomatic ties from the Vatican.
At least When Neville Chamberlin was trotting around Europe declaring “peace in our time”, he was primarily naïve. That’s not necessarily the case with our current leader of appeasement.
Of course, then again, maybe the President is just trying to be fair. Maybe he didn’t want Israel to feel like the only religious sovereign-state to be snubbed by the US this week.