At a recent book festival in Charlottesville, Virginia, Ambassador Francis Rooney spoke about the Vatican and its diplomatic links to the United States and other nations during a panel discussion. Ambassador Rooney was President George W. Bush’s envoy to the Holy See.
Concerning the invitation of Jesuit-trained John Boehner for the pope to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress, he said, “Speaker Boehner is a devout Catholic and values the role the Holy See plays in the world.”
Though Rooney doesn’t expect the pope to accept the invitation, this invitation, he noted, “reflects the importance of Holy See diplomacy and the importance of the relationship with the United States,” and in particular to U.S. policy makers. “It’s never happened before” but it “offers an interesting opportunity.”
He added that there is a convergence of interests and values between Washington and the Vatican, especially respect human freedoms, especially religious freedom and other natural rights.
It is interesting to note that the Roman Catholic Church, one of the most persecuting religions in history, has essentially become the strongest advocate of religious freedom in recent times, taking the stage from Seventh-day Adventists and other church such as some Baptist churches.
Rooney also pointed out that the Vatican is the locus of world-wide human intelligence because of its unparalleled global network of priests and nuns. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said the Catholic Church has “one of the greatest information gathering networks in the world.” The system provides information that actually surprises the CIA and the U.S. Administration at times.
“One of the unique aspects of the Holy See is their global network of priests, nuns, NGOs. We get so much information from them,” Rooney said, adding that there are “millions of vignettes of Holy See information surprising the United States in its, in what they’ve been able to find out.”
Rooney also commented about the effect of the second Vatican council on Papal diplomacy. Many of the bishops, he said, wanted to get out of the diplomacy business, but Pope Paul VI, said that the Church has “an important role to play in the world.” Pope Paul, he asserted, “saved the diplomatic mission, if you will, of the Holy See.”
Rooney was promoting his new book, The Global Vatican: An Inside Look at the Catholic Church, World Politics, and the Extraordinary Relationship between the United States and the Holy See.
The Bible calls this diplomatic behavior as fornication because mixing church and state ultimately leads to oppression and the loss of basic human rights, especially religious liberty. See Revelation 13, 17 and 18. It is ironic that the Holy See, of all things, is advocating religious liberty. Perhaps the Papacy now has reached the tipping point where it no longer needs to keep its illicit activity quiet and can openly advocate the things that resonate politically with a broad section of western nations.
“The Roman Church now presents a fair front to the world, covering with apologies her record of horrible cruelties. She has clothed herself in Christlike garments; but she is unchanged. Every principle of the papacy that existed in past ages exists today. The doctrines devised in the darkest ages are still held. Let none deceive themselves. The papacy that Protestants are now so ready to honor is the same that ruled the world in the days of the Reformation, when men of God stood up, at the peril of their lives, to expose her iniquity. She possesses the same pride and arrogant assumption that lorded it over kings and princes, and claimed the prerogatives of God. Her spirit is no less cruel and despotic now than when she crushed out human liberty and slew the saints of the Most High.” Great Controversy, page 571