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Conscience Magazine

US Embassy to Holy See Will Be Moved onto Grounds of Embassy to Italy

February 19, 2014

The US State Department announced that, due to security concerns, it will be moving its embassy to the Holy See to a shared space housing the embassy to Italy. The move was prompted by a decision that the free-standing Vatican embassy was less secure than the Italian compound, especially in light of the fatal 2012 attack on a US diplomatic compound in Libya. A State Department official estimated that the change would also save the government about $1.4 million a year, according to TIME.

James Nicholson, former US Ambassador to the Holy See, opposed the move, saying that it will represent a “massive downgrade” in the relationship between the United States and the Vatican. “In the diplomatic world, if you don’t have your own separate space, you’re on the road to nowhere,” he told the National Catholic Reporter. Francis Rooney, another former ambassador, told CNN that the shift will create “a perception among foreign governments and other missions that the United States does not value its relationship with the Holy See.”

These claims do not mesh with the statements from the Vatican, however, where the primary concern is that the embassy remain “completely separate” (it will have its own entrance) and that there was “a very good feeling right now” between the Holy See and the US, reported Catholic Online. Ken Hackett, the current US ambassador, concurred: “I see no diminishing in the importance of the relationship at all,” he said, according to CNS News.