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Old 03-26-2020, 02:49 PM
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US embassy to Vatican City


Newt Gingrich was on The View this morning. His wife is the US Ambassador to the Vatican, and he was calling in from Rome. He said that, during the Italian lockdown, his wife was still running the Embassy. Is there a US Embassy to the Vatican? An entire infrastructure dedicated to US relations with the Vatican? Is it a distinct entity from the US Embassy to Italy?
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Old 03-26-2020, 02:56 PM
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Yes, yes, and yes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embass...o_the_Holy_See

https://va.usembassy.gov/
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Old 03-26-2020, 02:59 PM
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Note that it's distinct organizationally, but shares a building with the US Embassy to Italy, and the US Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome.
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Old 03-26-2020, 03:02 PM
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Thanks.
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Old 03-26-2020, 03:14 PM
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FWIW, the Vatican embassy is located as part of the US "Tri-Mission" embassy, i.e. the US Embassy to Italy and the US Embassy to the UN Agencies in Rome (there are several UN Agencies headquartered in Rome - World Food Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization and International Fund for Agricultural Development) and the US Embassy to the Vatican all share the same facility.

It's a distinct entity in the sense of having a separate ambassador and probably a small staff dedicated to them, but I suspect for the most part, they glom onto the larger US Embassy to Italy for most things.
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Old 03-26-2020, 05:35 PM
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It appears that there are six people at this embassy:

https://va.usembassy.gov/embassy/holy-see/key-officers/
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Old 03-26-2020, 11:26 PM
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In case it's over some people's heads, the Vatican is a separate country. It's the remnant of the Papal States that controlled much of Italy, and had its own army... thus answering Stalin's question - "How many divisions does the pope have?" Once upon a time, lots.
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Old 03-27-2020, 01:01 AM
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He never really had lots of divisions. Militarily, the Papal States were never what you would call a world power. Or even a regional power.

And, strictly speaking, the US ambassador (and the ambassadors of many other countries) are not Ambassadors to "Vatican City", the state created by treaty with Italy in 1929; they are ambassadors to the Holy See, an internationally-recognised organisation that predates the Vatican City State by many centuries.

Does this matter? Yeah, in this sense: if you're asking yourself why the US or any other country would accredit an ambassador to the Holy See, the answer is not going to have anything to do with territory (of the Vatican City State) or divisions or any of the characteristics that might influence a decision about accrediting an ambassador to a country; it'll be about the role, reach and influence of the Holy See as an internationally significant organisation.
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Old 03-27-2020, 07:27 AM
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One point to note is that it is only relatively recently that some of the major non-Roman Catholic countries have sent full ambassadors to the Holy See. The UK has done so only since 1982, the USA since 1984, Russia since 2010. Before then they used officials with lesser titles or didn't have diplomatic relations at all.

The Vatican refuses to recognise ambassadors to the Holy See who are also the ambassador to Italy and it isn't hugely keen on the current trend for countries to house the two embassies in the same building. Lots of countries get round that by combining it with their embassy to another European country, often Switzerland.
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Old 03-27-2020, 08:05 AM
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One point to note is that it is only relatively recently that some of the major non-Roman Catholic countries have sent full ambassadors to the Holy See. The UK has done so only since 1982, the USA since 1984, Russia since 2010. Before then they used officials with lesser titles or didn't have diplomatic relations at all.

The Vatican refuses to recognise ambassadors to the Holy See who are also the ambassador to Italy and it isn't hugely keen on the current trend for countries to house the two embassies in the same building. Lots of countries get round that by combining it with their embassy to another European country, often Switzerland.
Note that Reagan was criticized for sending an ambassador to the Vatican. Jerry Falwell said he was going to ask for an ambassador too.
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Old 03-27-2020, 09:40 AM
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If the Holy See is so insistent that other countries house their Vatican embassies separately from their Italian embassies, it should be willing to grant them land on Vatican grounds for those embassies. However, given that the Vatican City is only 109 acres, that's not really practical. And similarly, it's not really practical to house an embassy for a country of a thousand people separately from an embassy for a country of 60 million.
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Old 04-01-2020, 01:36 PM
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I'd like to skip in that many countries (but not the United States) actually operate three embassies in Rome. One to Italy, one to the Vatican (which is, as others have been pointed out, strictly speaking an embassy to the Holy See, but the distinction between the Vatican and the Holy See is something of a nuance in international law), and one to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a crusade-era order of chivalry which at some stage used to rule teh island of Malta and which continues to exist as a widely recognised subject of international law, but without sovereignty over any territory.
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Old 04-01-2020, 01:58 PM
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If the Holy See is so insistent that other countries house their Vatican embassies separately from their Italian embassies, it should be willing to grant them land on Vatican grounds for those embassies. However, given that the Vatican City is only 109 acres, that's not really practical. And similarly, it's not really practical to house an embassy for a country of a thousand people separately from an embassy for a country of 60 million.
It would be even more impractical if more countries sent ambassadors to the Sovereign Order of Malta. Their entire national territory consists of five buildings.
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Old 04-01-2020, 02:22 PM
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I'd like to skip in that many countries (but not the United States) actually operate three embassies in Rome. One to Italy, one to the Vatican (which is, as others have been pointed out, strictly speaking an embassy to the Holy See, but the distinction between the Vatican and the Holy See is something of a nuance in international law), and one to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a crusade-era order of chivalry which at some stage used to rule teh island of Malta and which continues to exist as a widely recognised subject of international law, but without sovereignty over any territory.
It would be funny if the Vatican built a skyscraper condo building that all of the Embassies could share.
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Old 04-01-2020, 02:28 PM
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nm, server glitch

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Old 04-01-2020, 03:00 PM
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Aside: Vatican City has a papal density of 8 popes per square mile.
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Old 04-01-2020, 05:53 PM
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One point to note is that it is only relatively recently that some of the major non-Roman Catholic countries have sent full ambassadors to the Holy See. The UK has done so only since 1982, the USA since 1984, Russia since 2010. Before then they used officials with lesser titles or didn't have diplomatic relations at all.

The Vatican refuses to recognise ambassadors to the Holy See who are also the ambassador to Italy and it isn't hugely keen on the current trend for countries to house the two embassies in the same building. Lots of countries get round that by combining it with their embassy to another European country, often Switzerland.
I don't know who was pope in 1984, but the Holy_See/Vatican was working on international relations in general. Either as a result of changes in relations with Italy happening at that time, or as a cause.
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Old 04-01-2020, 06:21 PM
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It's not being publicized much but the Vatican is hard at work fighting against Coronavirus!

https://www.liveleak.com/view?t=9ofTo_1585691062
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Old 04-01-2020, 06:51 PM
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Note that Reagan was criticized for sending an ambassador to the Vatican. Jerry Falwell said he was going to ask for an ambassador too.
Probably meant an exorcist, I can't imagine a Falwellite going into the belly of the beast
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Aside: Vatican City has a papal density of 8 popes per square mile.
Nitpick: just under 6. And of course with Benedict making occasional visits, you might have that figure
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I don't know who was pope in 1984, but the Holy_See/Vatican was working on international relations in general. Either as a result of changes in relations with Italy happening at that time, or as a cause.
You don't? It's not like there's term limits.
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Old 04-01-2020, 07:01 PM
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I don't know who was pope in 1984, [snip]
That was of course John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla.
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Old 04-01-2020, 11:52 PM
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I'd like to skip in that many countries (but not the United States) actually operate three embassies in Rome\ . . .
The US does operate three embassies in Rome - one to Italy, one to the Holy See, one to the UN agencies based in Rome (the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Food Programme, I forget the third one). The represention to the UN agencies is formally called a mission, rather than an embassy, but nothing turns on that. And there are definitely three American ambassadors in Rome, since the mission to the UN agencies is headed by an ambassador.

Which raises the interesting, if trivial, question - are there any countries with four diplomatic missions in Rome - one to each of the above, plus one to the Order of Malta?

Fun fact: the Republic of Malta accredits an ambassador to the Order of Malta!

Last edited by UDS; 04-01-2020 at 11:55 PM.
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Old 04-02-2020, 02:40 AM
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I don't know who was pope in 1984, but the Holy_See/Vatican was working on international relations in general.
Actually the Holy See is quite active internationally, and not only recently - it has had diplomatic relations with many countries for centuries. It's not a UN member, but does participate in some UN special agencies, and also maintains bilateral relations with many countries. It is one of the few players on the diplomatic scene which recognises the Republic of China (i.e., Taiwan) as the legitimate representative of China, rather that the People's Republic (i.e., the mainland regime) in the ongoing China/Taiwan dispute.

In many countries, the ambassador from the Holy See (called Apostolic Nuncio) enjoys a special status: He automatically serves as dean of the diplomatic corps, i.e., the foremost of the foreign ambassadors accredited to the country. It's only a matter of protocol and ceremony rather than one of actual priority, but it does carry some prestige.
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Old 04-02-2020, 02:44 AM
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The US does operate three embassies in Rome - one to Italy, one to the Holy See, one to the UN agencies based in Rome (the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Food Programme, I forget the third one). The represention to the UN agencies is formally called a mission, rather than an embassy, but nothing turns on that. And there are definitely three American ambassadors in Rome, since the mission to the UN agencies is headed by an ambassador.
Thanks for that, I wasnt aware of it.

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Which raises the interesting, if trivial, question - are there any countries with four diplomatic missions in Rome - one to each of the above, plus one to the Order of Malta?
Indeed an interesting question. The Rome phone directory entry for "diplomatic missions" must be quite lengthy!

Quote:
Fun fact: the Republic of Malta accredits an ambassador to the Order of Malta!
And vice versa - on a trip to that island, I once walked past the embassy of the Order of Malta to the Republic of Malta.
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Last edited by Schnitte; 04-02-2020 at 02:45 AM. Reason: typo corrected
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Old 04-02-2020, 12:00 PM
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I don't know who was pope in 1984, but the Holy_See/Vatican was working on international relations in general. Either as a result of changes in relations with Italy happening at that time, or as a cause.
In the case of the UK, the reason for the change in 1982 was John Paul II's visit, the first to Britain by a reigning Pope. That was partly to reciprocate for the Queen's first state visit to the Vatican two years earlier. In anticipation of the Pope's visit, the British government upgraded its Envoy Extraordinary to Ambassador, while the Vatican upgraded its Apostolic Delegate in London to Apostolic Pro-Nuncio. While all this wasn't completely unconnected to Cold War politics, it was more directly about the British government not wanting to be seen as an obstacle to Catholic-Anglican ecumenical efforts.
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Old 04-02-2020, 12:17 PM
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The Vatican refuses to recognise ambassadors to the Holy See who are also the ambassador to Italy and it isn't hugely keen on the current trend for countries to house the two embassies in the same building.
Interesting. San Marino doesn't get huffy about it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Ma...ates_relations
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Old 04-02-2020, 12:55 PM
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The Vatican refuses to recognise ambassadors to the Holy See who are also the ambassador to Italy
I didn't know that. Apparently, however, it accepts other countries having one ambassador to the Holy See and the Order of Malta at the same time (at least Germany does so, I just checked the website of the German embassy to the two).

As for costs: It may not appear terribly efficient, but then again, an embassy to the Holy See (and/or the Order of Malta, for that matter) doesn't need to be very big. For instance, you can save yourself pretty much the entire visa business (which often makes up a huge chunk of the daily affairs of an embassy) since the Holy See and the Order of Malta have very few people to whom they issue passports, and those select few who do hold such passports would typically be of diplomatic rank anyway. In essence, such an embassy would only need a handful of liaison officers between the two governments, and that would be it.

Germany also seems to have a tradition of appointing Roman Catholics as ambassadors to the Holy See. I found that quite interesting; on the one hand it appears to be logical and self-suggesting, but when you come to think of it I'd suppose it would make sense to specifically appoint non-Catholics to that post, since they would be less likely to have split loyalties should the interests of the two governments really clash.
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Last edited by Schnitte; 04-02-2020 at 12:58 PM.
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Old 04-02-2020, 07:11 PM
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Actually the Holy See is quite active internationally, and not only recently - it has had diplomatic relations with many countries for centuries. It's not a UN member, but does participate in some UN special agencies, and also maintains bilateral relations with many countries. It is one of the few players on the diplomatic scene which recognises the Republic of China (i.e., Taiwan) as the legitimate representative of China, rather that the People's Republic (i.e., the mainland regime) in the ongoing China/Taiwan dispute.

In many countries, the ambassador from the Holy See (called Apostolic Nuncio) enjoys a special status: He automatically serves as dean of the diplomatic corps, i.e., the foremost of the foreign ambassadors accredited to the country. It's only a matter of protocol and ceremony rather than one of actual priority, but it does carry some prestige.
Yes, that whole thing about the 6 wives of Henry the VIII was about international politics. Henry wanted to be in charge of the church in England, in a similar way to the way the Italian state had formal control of church appointments up until the mid 1980's.

International politics isn't always front of mind. There was something specific happening in the early 1980's
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