Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 2, 2008

THE U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE HOLY SEE.... Tim Fernholz reminds us today that there's a simmering controversy surrounding, of all things, who Barack Obama is likely to send to the Vatican as the U.S. ambassador.

Now, it's worth noting from the outset that the existence of such a position is itself awkward. While I can appreciate the fact that the Vatican has some unique hierarchical qualities, the federal government of the United States does not name ambassadors to represent us with any other faith tradition. Moreover, as long as the position has existed, it has gone to a Roman Catholic, which raises additional questions about a possible religious test for public office and church-state issues.

That said, Steve Bainbridge had a much-discussed item the other day, arguing that Obama would be insulting the church if he picked Douglas Kmiec, a prominent and devout conservative Catholic, and former dean of Catholic University's law school, to be the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.

I take it that, as a general rule, one should not choose ambassadors whose appointment will insult the country to which they are credentialed. One would not expect Obama to appoint a known anti-Zionist as ambassador to Israel, for example. Yet, while Winters and other pro-Obama US Catholics might delight in tweaking the Holy father by appointing Kmiec as ambassador to the Vatican, it would be tantamount to sending Norman Finkelstein to Israel. Doug Kmiec chose to turn his back on a life time of support for conservative and, in particular, pro-life causes to endorse Barack Obama.... The Vatican has made clear that a Kmiec appointment would be most unwelcome.... [T]o appoint Doug Kmiec as ambassador to the Holy See would be an insult to both the Vatican and to "serious, loyal" Catholics everywhere.

I find all of this quite odd. Kmiec is not anti-Catholic or anti-Vatican. On the contrary, he's a practicing, mass-attending, life-long Catholic who is both politically conservative and an opponent of abortion rights. He endorsed Obama anyway. This should disqualify him from an ambassadorship?

I would have assumed the opposite. A 54% majority of Catholic voters supported Obama on Election Day, and Obama is probably going to pick one of them to be the ambassador to the Vatican. Shouldn't conservatives be thrilled if he picks a politically conservative Catholic who agrees with the church on abortion? Isn't that the opposite of an "insult"?

To Bainbridge, voting for Obama seems to be a deal-breaker. Newsflash: if conservatives are waiting for Obama to pick a prominent Catholic who voted for McCain/Palin, I suspect they'll be waiting for a long time.

Steve Benen 1:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (65)

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Comments

Let's send John Waters instead. He's a good catholic boy.

Posted by: jeff on December 2, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Um, this is not an ambassador to a "faith tradition." The Vatican is a country. I agree with all of your other comments, but this is an important distinction.

Posted by: Kate on December 2, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

I think he should find a prosecutor from Boston who was involved in the prosecution of the priests who abused children. I want Law to be reminded of how pathetically craven his criminal behavior was every day of his life.

Posted by: freelunch on December 2, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

While I'm generally against rewarding ambassadorships to political donors, I would approve of a lottery here among those who gave small donations. Maybe find someone who wants to learn to make that plasticized Tuscan bread, who truly appreciates those jester-like costumes their Swiss guards wear.

Posted by: Danp on December 2, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

If it's gonna be this hard, maybe he should just skip it.

Posted by: gab on December 2, 2008 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Kate writes: "Um, this is not an ambassador to a "faith tradition." The Vatican is a country. I agree with all of your other comments, but this is an important distinction."

Maybe, maybe not. As far as I can tell, the US doesn't have embassies or consulates in other "microstates" (Monaco, San Marino, Nauru). All of those are orders of magnitude larger than the Vatican, both in area and in population.

If the Vatican were just a typical microstate, instead of being the headquarters of a large, hierarchical, and influential religious order, we wouldn't have an embassy there.

Posted by: J on December 2, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

First of all, it would be great to send Norman Finkelstein to Israel as ambassador.

I believe the Vatican is a city-state, not a country, but I could be wrong.

And why do we even need an ambassador there? To extradite child molesters?

Posted by: martin on December 2, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

And why do we even need an ambassador there? To extradite child molesters?

They don't have an extradition treaty with the US. Presumably, that is why Cardinal Law is hiding out there.

Posted by: freelunch on December 2, 2008 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Ugh, do I hate the phrase "faith tradition."

Posted by: skeptic on December 2, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

... one should not choose ambassadors whose appointment will insult the country to which they are credentialed.

Like sending John Bolton to the UN ? Another 'not-a-country' ambassadorial post.

The role of the Ambassador is to represent Obama. To pick someone who did not support him, specifically for that quality, is pure wing-nuttery.

I think the controversy is being played out by those who wish to declare that only Republicans can lay claim to anything vaguely religious and everyone else is apostate.

Posted by: reboot on December 2, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

If he's going to piss off the conservatives, Obama should go all-in. How about a pro-choice Catholic lesbian instead? If they don't like it, Obama can just say that the Vatican is just too small to warrant an ambassador. Sure the Catholic Church will campaign against his reelection. But they did that this time already. What does he owe them?

Posted by: fostert on December 2, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Quit pandering to religion. That's one of the reasons I stopped voting for basically any Republicans.

Posted by: Franklin on December 2, 2008 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Will what ever ambassador he picks be forced to go to confession before performing his or her duties because they are representing a pro-choice leader?

Posted by: kp on December 2, 2008 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

The professor seems to be laboring under the illusion (or is it delusion?) that conservatives still have fuck-all to say about who gets appointed to federal and diplomatic positions.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on December 2, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Damn, how fast can we get Sinead O'Connor American citizenship? :)

Notwithstanding Kate's point, as a semi-practicing (ok, rarely-practicing) Episcopalian, can I get an Ambassador to Canterbury?

Maybe for the Vatican we send a Pastafarian? I mean, culturally, how much better can it get than someone who worships spaghetti? buon cibo!

Posted by: zeitgeist on December 2, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Does it mean that anyone that supports Obama is unacceptable as an ambassador?

Would Pat Buchanon be suitable?

But then is the mere appointment by Obama a disqualifier and an insult?

What a difficult world it becomes when we can't talk to the people with whom we disagree.

Posted by: Neal on December 2, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Oh please, this is just standard-issue right-wing pre-emptive dudgeon.

How dare Barack Obama consider X?! That would be an insult to serious people whom he'd better not insult if he knows what's good for him! Why, I'm insulted that he's even thinking about it! This is an official harrumph!

And then, of course, if Obama quite properly says "screw 'em" and doesn't do exactly as they say he should, they get all wounded and paranoid. And if he does do what they say -- whether they say it or not -- they smirk to their friends and then mutter darkly about the few crumbs they're given and what-kind-of-bipartisan-cooperation-is-this-anyway?

Screw 'em. I think we should stop paying any attention to them at all.

Posted by: bleh on December 2, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

The hell with the vatican. I say Obama should appoint a lesbian aethiest.

Posted by: AngryOldVet on December 2, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

On 2nd thought, a better choice would be a convicted pedophile priest. There are plenty to choose from.

Posted by: AngryOldVet on December 2, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Where, exactly, is this "controversy" supposed to be "simmering" outside of three, now four, blogs? Does anyone think that an ambassador to the Vatican is anywhere in the top 1000 things on Obama's to-do list? Is there anyone with any inside knowledge who is "mentioning" anyone, let alone Kmiec? I can see the logic of someone speculating that Kmiec might be the choice, but is there any reason to think Obama is anywhere near even thinking about a choice? Has the Vatican made any noises on the subject?
For what it's worth, it would be dumb to appoint an ambassador that the receiving country would find unacceptable. If, and I say IF, the Vatican has objections to someone it perceives to be a "bad" Catholic as an ambassador, then it's bad diplomacy to send a "bad" Catholic. So send an Episcopalian. The Vatican may have a legitimate beef about an ambassador who is a "bad" Catholic; it has no legitimate beef about an ambassador who is not a Catholic at all.

Posted by: CJColucci on December 2, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Sam Harris.

Posted by: Brojo on December 2, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Like sending John Bolton to the UN ?

I was just going to point out that that was an insult to the entire world.


So does this mean Obama has to send Muslim Ambassador to Saudi Arabia?

Posted by: kc on December 2, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

This entire post is predicated on the notion that the Vatican would consider a Kmiec appointment to be an insult; frankly, I'm not convinced that's the case. From what I can tell, the Vatican has not said one word about this.

Bainbridge's article only quotes on anonymous Vatican official. And even that anonymous official only says that the Vatican would be opposed to Kmiec's appointment, and not that they would reject it or consider it an "insult" (that was Bainbridge's word).

I have no doubt that there are many individual American Catholics who would oppose a Kmiec appointment, just as there are many others who would celebrate it. But that's very different from the Vatican taking a position on the issue.

Seems to me like Bainbridge is pumping out a lot of smoke, but that there's very little fire.

Posted by: Hoosier Paul on December 2, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Since Roman Catholics are still the single largest denomination in the United States, it's probably not a bad idea to have an ambassador there to represent the interests of those Americans. But it's frankly insane to try and claim that sending someone who endorsed Obama would be an "insult."

As far as I know, the Vatican and Pope Benedict took no position on the election, and the priests and bishops who have denounced Obama have made those pronouncements on their own. In fact, in most of the post-election denouncements, those priests and bishops have been reprimanded by their bosses.

Not to mention that Bainbridge seems to be yet another layman who insists that he speaks for the church. Maybe we should go with the words of Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, over someone who's not even a priest, much less a spokesman for the Church:

"The Catholic Church does not endorse political candidates," George said in a statement. "Consequently, while a priest must speak to political issues that are also moral, he may not endorse candidates nor engage in partisan campaigning."
Posted by: Mnemosyne on December 2, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

"As far as I can tell, the US doesn't have embassies or consulates in other "microstates""

The U.S. didn’t have an ambassador with the Holy See until Reagan established diplomatic relations in 1984.

There's really no need to continue such a post. Especially since the current pope thinks that he's the one who should be dictating to US citizens on what laws to pass and how to vote and that he should be placed above all others, including the President and Congress of this land. (something that's prohibited by the Constitution). The Ambassador to Italy could go visit the Vatican once a month to have the Pope's secretary lecture him on how the US should be run.

Posted by: Joshua Norton on December 2, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

It seems to me that the proposed appointment would not be an insult to the Vatican or the Pope or Catolicism in general, but to Bainbridge personally. As such, that just sweeten the deal for me.

Posted by: Outis on December 2, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

How about Rev. Wright ?

Posted by: coral on December 2, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

. . . er . . . make that "Catholicism" and "sweetens" . . .

Posted by: Outis on December 2, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

CJColucci, you appear to have identified a pattern among current wingnuts. Trying to mask their current political insignifigance, they are propping up straw men (Kmiec, Fairness Doctrine) to rage against, then when these things - that were never likely to begin with - are not brought up, they will rush to take credit, trumpeting press releases headlined "Tales of the demise of the Christian Right premature, overstated!"

Posted by: zeitgeist on December 2, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK
Um, this is not an ambassador to a "faith tradition." The Vatican is a country.

The State of Vatican City is a sovereign country, but ambassadors are not accredited to the State of Vatican City but to the Holy See, which is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Pope as Bishop of Rome. So its easy to see this as an ambassador to the Church as an institution (but even then, not to a "faith tradition".)

But a part of that episcopal jurisdiction is status as Sovereign of the State of Vatic City, as a non-hereditary monarch, so its really just the equivalent of ambassadors to the UK being accredited to the Court of St. James's, rather than to the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 2, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

If some dumb old guy in Italy doesn't want to talk to anyone who supported Obama, maybe President Obama should just tell him to fuck off.

Posted by: steve on December 2, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I was going to say this is a perfect job for Pat Buchanan, or some other "Pope is an agent of the Devil" type, but Neal beat me to it. What better way to demonstrate the new bipartisan coalition ecumenical government? Don't worry about initial difficulties. Eric Holder's had practice straightening out detestable situations.

Posted by: ericfree on December 2, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, this post is of very recent vintage, having been established by Reagan in 1984. As a sixty-year-old ex-Southern Baptist, I can remember a time when American Protestants adamantly opposed the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Holy See, ostensibly on separation-of-church-and-state grounds. That's one of many attitudes that have changed with the rise of the religious right.

Posted by: David in Nashville on December 2, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it that all these righties don't allow comments on their sites?

I sure would have liked to tell the miscreant Mr. Bainbridge what I thought about his views.

Would sure keep them busy, that's all Im sayin'.

Posted by: kindness on December 2, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK
A 54% majority of Catholic voters supported Obama on Election Day, and Obama is probably going to pick one of them to be the ambassador to the Vatican.

Why? Not "why assume Obama is going to pick one of his supporters as Ambassador to the Holy See?" but "why assume Obama is going to pick a Catholic as Ambassador to the Holy See?". Yes, its always gone to a prominent Catholic political ally of the President since the post was created under Reagan, but why shouldn't it be treated like a serious diplomatic post?

Shouldn't conservatives be thrilled if he picks a politically conservative Catholic who agrees with the church on abortion? Isn't that the opposite of an "insult"?

He's a Catholic that disagrees with the conservatives at issue on abortion absolutism in politics and voting, so he is clearly unacceptable to those Conservatives. OTOH, AFAIK, his position on that is perfectly in line with that of the summit of the Church heirarchy, if at odds with a handful of American ultraconservatives, so I don't see why the Vatican would see it as an insult.

Incidentally, AFAIK, the "controversy" is between the left and right of American Catholicism (and American Catholic media), from the Catholic outlet (America) whose blog introduced the idea of a Kmiec appointment, to the Catholic news agency that found an anonymous Vatican official to dis the idea.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 2, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, its always gone to a prominent Catholic political ally of the President since the post was created under Reagan, but why shouldn't it be treated like a serious diplomatic post?

Maybe because it's not a serious diplomatic post? I'm with the person who said let the ambassador to Italy cover it.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on December 2, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

In the spirit of bipartisanship, I really feel Barack Obama should nominate Norm Coleman. You say he's Jewish. Seriously who cares? He's a conservative and his wife has starred in some questionable stuff but really he didn't vote for Obama and he's pro-life and anti-gay.

Posted by: warren terrah on December 2, 2008 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

We have an ambassador to eurojesusland & not one to mormonjesusland [in Utah] or batshitcrazyjesusland [the southern baptist convention]!?!?

If I cared, I'd be insulted.

Posted by: Cognitive Dissident on December 2, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

To appoint Doug Kmiec as ambassador to the Holy See would be an insult to both the Vatican and to "serious, loyal" Catholics everywhere.

It may be an insult to certain conservative groups within the Vatican hierarchy, but it's certainly not an insult to "serious, loyal" Catholics everywhere. It would not, for example, be an insult to liberal or moderate Catholics. Why should the conservative wing be identified with true Catholicism anymore than the liberal or moderate wings are?

Posted by: Stefan on December 2, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Bainbridge's problem is clearly that he expects to dictate to conservative Catholics who they can support and how they can vote. Kmiec's support of Senator Obama for the Presidency undercuts the whole notion that Catholics (good ones anyway) have to vote Republican.

You always burn the Heretics before the Heathens, the Apostates before the Unconverted.

Personnally, I like the fact that we have an Ambassador to the Holy See. It's like having a back door to the one billion or so Catholics in the world, going around the likes of Hugo Chavez.

Posted by: Lance on December 2, 2008 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

I hope American Catholics are properly grateful for the Monmons stealing most of the headlines with their Prop 8 assault, because all these priests bringing the crazy on Obama voters sure put the church in a new and unflattering light. Makes me wonder when they're going to denounce Darwin and Copernicus.

When I was a kid all the Catholic families were staunch Democrats. What the hell (heh) happened?

Posted by: Trollhattan on December 2, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Monmons"? Sheesh. Sounds like a stuttering Rastafarian.

Posted by: Trollhattan on December 2, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK
Maybe because it's not a serious diplomatic post?

Given the significance of the impact of the Vatican's influence and involvement throughout the world, I think that's a foolish position, regardless of how few citizens the State of Vatican City has or how few tank divisions the Pope can muster.

OTOH, I can respect (while disagreeing with) the position that the position of US Ambassador to the Holy See ought to be abolished, just not the one that it ought to be maintained and treated consistently as a gift to a prominent Catholic supporter.

In fact, despite being a Catholic myself, I don't see why a non-Catholic President from a political party that is not expressly Catholic of a country that is expressly neutral to religion should consider a candidate's being Catholic as anything but a negative in considering them as a possible ambassador to the Holy See; its like (prior to the fall of the USSR) a non-Communist (as if there were historically any other kind) US President appointing a Communist who takes as a first principle the pre-eminence of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union within the world Communist movement as ambassador to the USSR. The job of an Ambassador is to represent the government of the country that appointed him to the government he is accredited to, not vice versa.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 2, 2008 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

I'm actually going to write on this tonight or tomorrow. But, in general, I try to cut Bainbridge some slack. Clearly, he guzzles the right wing Koolaid, but he also seems to be able to periodically reason like a legal scholar. And, on rare occasions, seems to grasp that the ideology of divisiveness and demonization that he regular supports is at odds with the Catholic faith he tries to hold.

A good example would be his recent post noting that, well, cafateria Catholicism isn't *solely* limited to Democrats because, well, torture is dogmatically held to be evil...

What I found so interesting about this particular post is that it all collides. As a legal scholar, it is hard for him to arrive at any conclusion other than that a vote for Obama could be licit due to proportionate reasons. This is how the USCCB has explained it, how then Cardinal Ratzinger explained it to the bishops, and how many bishops individually have explained it - including the very conservative Archbishop Burke.

More importantly, the principle has to exist for Bainbridge's own vote to be licit. From a Catholic point of view, John McCain's (and Sarah Palin's) positions on abortion are intrinsically evil. It would no be licit to vote for McCain specifically because he supports abortions for rape and incest, but you might vote for McCain *in spite* of that position because you are attempting to promote good and minimize evil.

The problem Bainbridge has is that the reasoning part of his mind has to acknowledge the principle exists, but the Koolaid drinking part of his brain cannot permit him to uniformly apply it. Technically, this may be licit, but Obama is, uh, special evil. And, uh, publicly endorsing goes beyond voting...

Part of him must know this is nonsense. The Church talks about 'Political Support', not simply voting, and 'most pro-abortion politician' is nonsensical political rhetoric. If Kmiec's moral conscience told him certainly that ending open ended wars and changing policies that have led to the collapse of the global economy is the best way to promote fundamental and inalienable moral ethical demands, he must answer his conscience, because to do otherwise would lead to damnation (CCC 1790). The flip side of that paragraph in the Catechism is that Kmiec must remain aware of the potential fallibility of his conscience.

This is the part that Bainbridge is missing. He can acknowledge the principle, and even use it himself, but he cannot accept that he, himself, may not be infallible. Look at his dismissive comments, "serious" and "loyal" Catholics voted correctly...

Ignoring that 50% of weekly Mass attending Catholics voted for Obama, the very principle of separating the Church into self identified groups is distinctly non-Catholic. The Pharisees were ultra religious, highly nationalistic, xenophobes. Most of their peers saw them as war heros to boot - but the Gospels tell us how Jesus responded to their self proclamation of special rightousness.

We get additional insight into his mindset when we look at his update, where he presumes that Steve's disagreement must equate to lack of reading or comprehension. The idea that his position is morally hypocritical is simply inconceivable to him...

Bainbridge often derides Catholics who 'pick and choose', but Catholicism isn't legal hair splitting either - particularly when one choses to only split hairs in one direction. First and foremost, to be a good Catholic one must strive to be a good Christian. Bainbridge should look at his comment directed at Steve and accept that he, like all of us, has plenty of room to grow in that regard.

Posted by: Fitz on December 2, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK
We have an ambassador to eurojesusland & not one to mormonjesusland [in Utah] or batshitcrazyjesusland [the southern baptist convention]!?!?

Last I checked, neither Utah nor whatever the notional homeland of American Protestant Fundamentalism is were independent countries.


Posted by: cmdicely on December 2, 2008 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Surely sending a Catholic as ambassador to the Vatican is a conflict of interest. Who should the ambassador make obedience to?

Posted by: royalblue_tom on December 2, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Hey....liberal commentator and former priest Bernie Ward would be a good choice! Of course, he'd have to get out of prison first...but Obama could take care of that with a stroke of his mighty pen.

Posted by: Ollie on December 2, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK
I believe the Vatican is a city-state, not a country, but I could be wrong.

A city-state is an independent country (state in the international sense) which consists of a single city (either exclusively, or controlling the surrounding non-urban area), so every city-state is also a country.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 2, 2008 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK
This is how the USCCB has explained it, how then Cardinal Ratzinger explained it to the bishops, and how many bishops individually have explained it - including the very conservative Archbishop Burke.

Maybe then-Cardinal Ratzinger, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said something about it, but I thought the main Vatican articulation of the policy (around the time of the 2004 election campaign, when it was a bigger controversy than in 2008) was from Francis Cardinal Arinze, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. I could be misremembering that, though.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 2, 2008 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Sending a perfectly good Catholic is not an insult. Sending a Quaker? Now that would be a provocation.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on December 2, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

What better way to reach out to McCain supporters than to make the next ambassador to the Vatican the Rev. John Hagee?

Posted by: Chris S. on December 2, 2008 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Leave the post open until the Vatican makes a formal request for it to be filled. Then fill it with a career diplomat who may or may not be a Catholic.

Posted by: Always Hopeful on December 2, 2008 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Cmdicely got it right. It's not about the Vatican at all. It is about American Catholic politics.

Posted by: Bob M on December 2, 2008 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Since Ratzinger was in the Hitler Youth, I'd support Obama naming the head of the American Nazi Party as ambassador. Since that probably won't happen, I support Freelunch's idea of sending a prosecutor who worked on the Pedophile cases.

By the way, I'm Catholic, but not a happy one.

Posted by: tomeck on December 2, 2008 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Betcha having an ambassador and staff there costs a million bucks a year at least... probably a couple million.

Let's save a few dollars and do away with the position. That money could be put to better use elsewhere.

A million bucks vaccinates a hundred thousand children, buys 200,000 school lunches... or would pay for 30 seconds of the war in Iraq.

Posted by: Buford on December 2, 2008 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

seems like an opportune time to end what is hard to see as anything other than an illegal government endorsement of a particular religion by not sending any ambassador to the Vatican.

Posted by: pluege on December 2, 2008 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK
seems like an opportune time to end what is hard to see as anything other than an illegal government endorsement of a particular religion by not sending any ambassador to the Vatican.

Does the government endorse the Church of England by sending an ambassador to the Court of Saint James's? The sovereign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is, you know, the same person as the head of that Church no less than the sovereign of the State of Vatican City is the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

Certainly, there may be an argument that the State of Vatican City should be dealt with like other microstates and share representation with one or more neighboring countries. But there is no valid argument that it is a First Amendment mandate that we not have representation to the Vatican.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 2, 2008 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK
Betcha having an ambassador and staff there costs a million bucks a year at least... probably a couple million.
...
A million bucks vaccinates a hundred thousand children, buys 200,000 school lunches... or would pay for 30 seconds of the war in Iraq.

so, what you are saying is that, if we cut off our annual expenditures in Iraq, we can vaccinate every child born in the world each year, establish embassies to every sovereign country on Earth, including all the microstates, and still have plenty of savings to use for on domestic projects and deficit reduction?

I'm cool with that plan.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 2, 2008 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Out of curiosity... Who's the *current* ambassador to Vatican? And did his appointment have Bainbridge's blessing? Or did he thin -- correctly -- that it was none of his business?

Posted by: exlibra on December 2, 2008 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to nominate William Donohue. I can't think of anyone I'd rather have an ocean away from me.

But seriously, the United States is the only country to have its very own heresy:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americanism_(heresy)

Posted by: Steve Paradis on December 2, 2008 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Justice Scalia'd like the job. Of course he'd need to resign his current position. . .

Posted by: cookie on December 3, 2008 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, we do send ambassadors to other religion-run countries. Think Saudi Arabia, for example. But we do not neessarily send a Saud. We send whoever seems best for the job. So why should the ambassador to the Holy See be a Catholic? Catholics are only willing to talk with other Catholics?

Posted by: Focus on December 3, 2008 at 3:18 AM | PERMALINK

By objecting to Kmiec the Vatican is essentially saying that support of the Obama administration by itself disqualifies any candidate for the Vatican ambassadorship.

If they cannot talk with anyone representing the views of the United States, what is the point of having an ambassador?

Leave the post unfilled.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on December 3, 2008 at 3:35 AM | PERMALINK

Paris Hilton, surely? She did an electoral commercial, and it would be an act of fine bipartisanship were Obama to acknowledge other sides of the debate.

Posted by: al on December 3, 2008 at 5:09 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely, No, Arinze made a statement on the application of CIC 915, refusal of communion to pro abortion politicians. The subject at hand is proprotionate reasons in voting.

If the concept does not exist, then all Catholics who voted for a major party candidate would be unfit for Holy Communion because, among other things, both McCain and Obama hold intrinsically evil positions on abortion.

Frankly, I think that this is a case where something has backfired on the Republican Apologist portion of the Church. Rome describes certain issues as "not negotiable" and the "essence of the moral law". Taken strictly, this would pretty much put Catholics as standing on principle and either not voting, or voting for write ins. Proportionate Reasons opens the door to voting for voting for a John McCain, but there is not theologically coherent way to define it so that there is only one outcome.

Groups like Catholic Answers try to force the outcome by abridging doctrine. For example, their Voters Guide for Serious Catholics, takes a list of 9 non negotiable moral principles and collapses it to 5 (which is really only two overlaps, and three fragments extracted from two more of Rome's). But even the abridged list is problematic, since voting Republican (presumably the guide's desired outcome) requries compromise on principles in it. Again, once you introduce the concept of judgement and compromise, it is difficult to argue that only one conclussion is possible.

Posted by: Fitz on December 3, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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