Fmr. Envoys to Vatican: Embassy Move 'Slap in Face' of Catholics

Thursday, 28 Nov 2013 05:25 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Roman Catholics are being openly targeted for hostility with the Obama administration's planned move of the U.S. embassy to the Vatican, some prominent voices in the Catholic community contend.

In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter, five former American envoys—James Nicholson, Francis Rooney and Mary Ann Glendon, all envoys under President George W. Bush, Raymond Flunn, the first Clinton ambassador and Thomas Melady, who served under the first President Bush—slammed the proposed relocation of the freestanding embassy.

But Flynn bluntly noted the move was as part of a broader hostility to religious groups—and Catholics in particular.

"It's not just those who bomb churches and kill Catholics in the Middle East who are our antagonists, but it's also those who restrict our religious freedoms and want to close down our embassy to the Holy See," Flynn told the newspaper.

Flynn said he can't see any "diplomatic or political benefit to the United States" from the relocation and called it "shortsighted."

The publication Catholic Vote said the move is “an unmistakable slap in the face” to Catholics, and shows the U.S. doesn’t care about diplomatic relations with the Vatican, the Washington Times reported.

But at least anger of some Catholics with the administration can be traced to President Obama's signature healthcare law.

Several Catholic dioceses are now suing the Obama administration over the Obamacare mandate requiring that insurance provide free coverage for contraception and sterilization services and drugs they consider abortion-inducing.

Administration officials have said the relocation is a security measure that is a cautionary reaction to the 2012 attacks on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, where four Americans were murdered in a terrorist attack, as well as cost-saving.

No embassy personnel will be downsized, the Religion News Service reported.

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