Given their concern for excessive government spending, at taxpayer expense, you would think that the right wing would applaud the administration's decision to save taxpayer money by moving US Vatican embassy staff from a separate building to a compound shared by the US Italian embassy in Rome. But oh, no, certain right wing, anti-Obama Catholic zealots have their rosary beads in a bunch over what they consider to be part of the President's war on Catholics - a meme constantly aided and abetted by Fox News in their support for the Catholic bishops' opposition to the HHS birth control mandate. In late 2012, Fox did two pieces in which a former Vatican ambassador and big GOP honcho Jim Nicholson whined about the move. And this morning - drum roll please - he appeared on Fox & Friends, Fox's premier show for aggrieved Christians, for more whining!
Brian Kilmeade immediately got the agitprop ball rolling: "Critics of the Obama administration have slammed the decision to move the embassy...out of Vatican City saying the move could strain US Vatican relations." The chyron used for the last two segments on this issue was recycled: "Holy Controversy' WH Changing Location of Vatican Embassy." Kilmeade, is as usual, misinforming the audience as the current embassy is not in Vatican City.
Nicholson started his now patented whine about how this "isn't in our national interest." He claimed that the only conclusion is that the administration doesn't think that the mission to the "Holy See" is important. He whined about the physical location of the new digs which "diminish" the stature of the embassy. The agitprop chyron set the Fox concocted outrage which "the left" isn't, by Fox standards, paying sufficient attention: "Ignoring the Outrage, the Left Dismisses Criticism of Embassy Move." Nicholson dismissed the monetary and security concerns. He continued to whine about how the new place isn't as nice as the old one.
Kilmeade cited the other former ambassadors who don't want the embassy moved. Not mentioned were the right wing creds of these folks: Ray Flynn (conservative, anti-choice Democrat who endorsed Mitt Romney; Thomas Melady (also endorsed Romney); Mary Ann Glendon (anti-choice zealot who refused to accept an award from Notre Dame because the school awarded the president an honorary degree.) and Francis Rooney (billionaire Romney supporter). In blithering about the importance of the Vatican Embassy Kilmeade gave, as an example, the relationship between Pope John Paul II and St. Ronald Reagan who worked together to "undermine Communism and lift the Iron Curtain." Nicholson praised Reagan for establishing the official relationship with the Vatican which, according to Nicholson, helped "bring down Communism."
Kilmeade read the State Department's statement about the move which Nicholson suggested was a lie. He then provided the scripted Fox message with his comment that even used the famous Fox "some people say" phrasing: "I'm not sure of their motivation some people say it's anti-Catholic and so forth, I don't know that..." He continued to whine about the foolishness of the move, importance of the diplomatic relationship, and how when members of congress come to visit they'll have to walk "down a hall." He repeated how this is "foolish" and "unnecessary." Kilmeade agreed and noted that Nicholson "is the former ambassador for the last president and you're speaking out to this president."
What wasn't mentioned: Of the 10 ambassadors to the Vatican (one of whom was Cokie Robert's mother) only five are whining. Neither the pope nor the current ambassador have a problem with this. Neither Kilmeade nor Nicholson mentioned that the current ambassador, Ken Hackett, "sees no diminishing in the importance of the relationship at all" and that "the relationship between the Vatican and the U.S. government hasn't been better than it is right now in quite a while." But, for Fox, the issue is all about using gripes from some right wingers in order to push the meme that Obama hates Catholics. It's all so transparent....
But, as zaglossus notes, the Vatican is really small potatoes. And I’ll add this: Do the FoxNoise whiners consider themselves to be Americans or citizens of the Holy See? If they’re Americans, the location of the US Embassy to the Holy See is of no concern. (The only way the Vatican itself could host all the Ambassadors and their staffs would be to build a new high-rise building—although, where exactly, is uncertain since the Vatican doesn’t have that much real estate for new construction—and then have ALL the foreign embassies share that building.)
Of course, I would LOVE to see the reaction of the FoxNoise kkkrew if they learned that Ireland (a country which is SO overwhelmingly Roman Catholic that divorce was only permitted in the last 20 years and has an abortion law that barely acknowledges any rights on the woman’s part UNLESS her life is placed in jeopardy) actually CLOSED its Embassy to the Holy See—which had been in Rome—more than TWO YEARS ago. Currently, the Irish Ambassador to the Holy See resides in Dublin.
(FWIW, you may have noticed I used the phrase “Holy See” in most instances instead of “the Vatican” or “Vatican City.” It turns out that NO ONE has diplomatic relations with “the Vatican” or “Vatican City.” ALL diplomatic relations are with the entity known as the Holy See. All treaties, obligations, etc are handled through the Holy See. It’s all a very complex legal issue, largely resulting from the 1929 Lateran Treaty which established the separate state of the Vatican City but the basic gist is that the state’s real power resides solely in the person of the Pope and his function as the head of the Roman Catholic Church. As it now stands, the “Vatican” only refers to the actual physical territory encompassing St Peter’s Basilica, St Peter’s Square, Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Gardens and a few exclaves—some mere buildings—in Rome and even in other parts of Italy, like the Castel Gandolfo while the Holy See refers to the government.)