Rice's ill-treatment of John Paul II's
special envoy, Cardinal Pio
Laghi [left], on the
eve of Iraq War, has won her Papal displeasure.
Corriere della Sera, Italy
Pope Won't Meet
Vatican Still Miffed
Treatment of Papal
"On the eve of
the Iraq War on March 2, 2003, she treated the envoy of John Paul II with a
coldness bordering on disrespect, after he was sent to Washington in a
desperate attempt to avert military action. It's clear that this discourtesy
has not been forgotten."
By Massimo Franco
Translated By Adrian Trevisan
September 19, 2007
- Corriere della
Sera - Original Article (Italian)
the denied audience, a divergence over foreign policy
The Pope's "no" to a
meeting with Rice
American Secretary of State requested an encounter in August
The response to her request?: “Benedict XVI is on vacation”
request arrived in the summer. In order to reinsert herself into the Middle
East viper's nest, the Secretary of State of the United States, Condoleezza
Rice, let it be known at the Vatican that she badly-needed to meet Benedict
XVI. It would have been no bad thing to meet her Middle East counterparts after
a Papal audience. She had hoped to fix a date at the beginning of August for a
meeting at the Pope's summer residence of Castelgandolfo , just after
his return from Lorenzago in the Dolomites [the
Italian Alps]. She was told that the Pope was on vacation.
insisted, but without luck: Vatican protocol was unshakeable. “The Pope is on
vacation,” has continued to be the official answer. We know this: that Rice
succeeded in discussing the Middle East and above all, Lebanon, in a telephone
call with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone .
In early August, The Holy See's number two was on a
visit to America for the annual reunion of the Knights of Columbus in Nashville.
The refused encounter between Benedict XVI and America's top diplomat seems to
have taken on a meaning that perhaps goes beyond what the Vatican had intended.
been taken as confirmation of the differences of opinion over the Bush Administration's
initiatives in the Middle East, and of continued friction in regard to Iraq and
relations with Iran. The Holy See maintains that the United States is at risk
of paying too little heed to guaranteeing the rights of religious minorities
under Iraq's new constitution. And it has made this clear to the Iraqi
government. Baghdad has responded by saying that the threat of violence against
Christians is no greater than that of other minorities. This issue has also
been addressed to the Americans. Their response is that the troops have yet to
succeed in gaining full control of the area; and therefore they are having
great difficulty protecting non-Muslims.
As far as
Iran is concerned, one is aware that the Vatican detests the truculent and anti-Semitic
tones of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
But another preventive war is viewed as a disaster. However, relations between
the USA and the Holy See remain quite good. There is a continuous exchange of
news and analyses on the “hot zones,” although their strategies remain
ethical issues continue to nag at the Catholic Church and the Bush
Administration. The problem is that their foreign policies remain a source of
controversy, and Rice is not seen as a desirable mediator.
contacts began over the squelched Papal meeting, it was explained that it also
came at Bush's urging. The June 9 meeting at the Vatican between Benedict XVI
and the American President had gone well WATCH , and the Secretary of State hoped
to follow in its wake. The reality is that granting Rice an audience on the
lake at Castelgandolfo would have required a strong
desire on the part of the Vatican, and none such desire exists. In August, the
Pontiff strives to avoid talks with political actors, and with few exceptions.
The notion that the Pope is on vacation is considered “a good excuse” for
avoiding any meeting not seen as indispensable, even if it creates confusions
and misunderstanding to global public opinion; and in this instance, the Middle
no one will say it, but Rice's behavior in 2003 when she was Bush's National
Security Advisor is also behind the “no.” On the eve of the conflict in Iraq,
it was Rice who nastily replied that she couldn't understand the attitude of
the Vatican, which was against the war; and then she treated the envoy of John
Paul II, Cardinal Pio Laghi with a coldness bordering on disrespect, after
he was sent to Washington on March 2, 2003, in a desperate attempt to avert
military action. It's clear that this discourtesy has not been forgotten.
FOR ITALIAN VERSION