From The Washington Times
by James Morrison Tuesday, April 7, 2009
3 STRIKES AT VATICAN
The Vatican has quietly rejected at least three of President Obama’s candidates to serve as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See because they support abortion, and the White House might be running out of time to find an acceptable envoy before Mr. Obama travels to Rome in July, when he hopes to meet Pope Benedict XVI.
Italian journalist Massimo Franco, who broke the story about the White House attempts to find a suitable ambassador to the Vatican, said papal advisers told Mr. Obama’s aides privately that the candidates failed to meet the Vatican’s most basic qualification on the abortion issue. [D'ya s'pose they'll ever figure out that the Catholic Church isn't going to change her teaching on abortion? What on earth are they thinking?]
"The informal dismissal of the first names whispered in the Obama inner circle is a signal," Mr. Franco, a columnist with Corriere della Sera (Evening Courier), told Embassy Row in e-mail.
He said the Vatican recognized that a foreign nation is free to appoint the ambassador of its choice but that the pope is free to reject a proposed envoy if he believes the candidate would "fail to improve relations" with the Catholic city-state. [It appears that the Holy See doesn't think that the role of the US ambassador is merely to promote the President's personal interests.]
Mr. Franco, who has close connections at the Vatican, added that the rejection of the Obama candidates "would suggest that, at least so far, none of the potential Democratic diplomats were considered fit to ‘improve relations’ with the Holy See." [Oddly, Democrat Presidents have been able to get ambassadors accepted before. Hmmm...]
Neither the Vatican Embassy in Washington nor the White House would comment Monday on the appointment of a new U.S. ambassador.
Mr. Franco – whose new book, "Parallel Empires: The Vatican and the U.S.," explores U.S.-Vatican relations over the past 200 years – said Mr. Obama’s predicament underscores a deeper problem the Vatican has with the Democratic Party and its pro-choice positions on abortion.
He also noted that the lack of a U.S. ambassador "could become embarrassing" for the White House, if the position remains unfilled when Mr. Obama attends a summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in Italy in July. The White House is trying to arrange a time before or after the summit for Mr. Obama to meet the pope.
Since the United States established formal diplomatic relations with the Vatican in 1984, the ambassadorial position has been held by political supporters and pro-life Catholics under both Republican and Democratic administrations.
President Reagan appointed political supporters William Wilson and Frank Shakespeare. President George H.W. Bush named Thomas Patrick Melady, a university professor. President Clinton selected former Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn and Rep. Corinne Claiborne "Lindy" Boggs, Louisiana Democrat.
President George W. Bush named three ambassadors during his two terms: James Nicholson, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee; Francis Rooney, a top campaign fundraiser; and Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard University law professor.
UPDATE 14:59 GMT
From a reader:
The former editor of Italy’s La Stampa has reported that Sen. John Kerry made a push for the Obama administration to appoint Caroline Kennedy as ambassador to the Holy See. [If that is true... that pro-abortion Sen. Kerry proposed a pro-abortion Kennedy... The mind reels.]
Caroline Kennedy, Vatican Ambassador?
A longtime John Kerry supporter is about to land the prized position of U.S. ambassador to Italy, and Caroline Kennedy may join him nearby as ambassador to the Vatican, an Italian news magazine has claimed.
In an April 2 article in Panorama, [that bastion of Italian journalistic excellence] journalist Carlo Rossella predicted that 60-year-old David Thorne, a donor to the Obama campaign and brother-in-law of former presidential candidate John Kerry, will be given the post, per the request of Kerry himself.
And in a report that will drop like a bombshell among Vatican watchers, Rosella also asserted that Caroline Kennedy – her own hopes to rise to the U.S. Senate dashed for now – has been suggested as the Obama administration’s ambassador to the Holy See.
It’s an ironic tangle of State Department, campaign and even marriage connections [you laugh so that you do not weep] that only adds fuel to speculation over who will represent the United States in two of the State Department’s most high-profile posts.
Thorne, a founder of Adviser Investments, is a longtime close friend of Kerry, having attended college and served in the Vietnam War [Remember: Sen. Kerry was in Vietnam!] with the now-Massachusetts senator. Even after Kerry divorced Thorne’s sister in 1988, the two men remained close.
Describing him as “elegant,” and “very sociable,” Rosella wrote that, like Kerry, Thorne “has always loved ‘beautiful people,’ the ‘bella vita’, European taste.” [perfect qualifications, allora!]
After being passed over in favor of Sen. Hillary Clinton for the position of Secretary of State, Rosella wrote, Kerry asked two favors of President Obama: first, to name Thorne as the State Department’s ambassador in Rome.
Second, Kerry asked that Kennedy – herself aspiring to Clinton’s vacated Senate seat – be made the administration’s Vatican ambassador.
After a short and heavily-criticized attempt to win the appointment to the Senate, Kennedy withdrew her name “for personal reasons” from New York Governor David Patterson’s consideration.
At the time, Kerry said while he was sorry she withdrew, he supported her decision and had been in contact with her.
“I think she really was put in a very difficult position, almost impossible one,” Kerry said, “but she’ll go on to do terrific things.”
Of course, whether Kerry was alluding to a State Department post at Vatican City is up for speculation, and Rosella did not offer further details.
Still, the prospect of Kennedy representing the United States to the Holy See promises to raise more than a few eyebrows and makes for an interesting contrast to another recent article on the Vatican ambassador position.
Reflecting the potential media frenzy – especially in Catholic sources [D'ya think?] – over whom President Obama will eventually appoint to the post, Newsmax correspondent Edward Pentin reported April 2 that the administration has actually put forward three potential candidates – all of which were rejected by the Vatican due to their pro-abortion backgrounds. [And so... Caroline Kennedy is the perfect choice, right?]
Early on in her bid to win the New York senate seat, Kennedy assured abortion advocates that she would be a strongly pro-choice figure.
In his report, Rossella — the former editor of Italian newspaper La Stampa – was not shy in adding his own, favorable opinion of the Thorne-Kennedy dynamic in Rome.
“If Thorne makes it, it would be a great occasion for the politic, diplomatic, artistic circles of Rome,” Rossella wrote, outright labeling such an ideal as the return of glamorous diplomacy.
“The pairing with Caroline Kennedy,” he added, “would be the icing on the cake which has already been well decorated.”