US Not Closing, Downsizing Vatican City Embassy, but Merely Moving Locations

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Like no time in his presidency, President Obama has been under almost constant fire from the news media—which in the past has treated him far more favorably—over a number of issues. The latest salvo comes after the decision by the Obama administration to close down the current US Vatican Embassy and relocate the facility to its own building on the grounds of the US embassy to Italy. However, many news outlets are reporting on the “outrage” from Catholics and burying the lead—that the embassy isn’t closing.

The Washington Times reports on the move calling it “an egregious slap in the face to the Vatican.” The article heavily draws from reporting done by the conservative website (that has had an iffy history with the truth) which quotes a number of officials who say that this represents a downgrade in diplomatic ties with the Catholic city-state. From the article, “the Obama administration is trying to diminish and discredit the Vatican’s role in the world because it’s[sic] pro-life, pro-family, and pro-religious freedom values  is at odds with the Regime's pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage stance.”

The main reason for the move is security, according to a conference call with the press and a senior state department official. The official pointed out, almost immediately, “There are no embassies from any country to the Holy See that are actually located within the Vatican City city-state.” All foreign embassies to the Vatican are located outside its walls in the city of Rome. In fact, the new US embassy location is actually closer to the Vatican than it was previously. The official also said that similar plans are in place to consolidate embassies where there are more than one mission inside the borders of a country.

Whereas much of the recent criticism of President Obama and his policies is warranted, this particular story is much ado about not much. The US is neither closing nor downsizing it’s embassy to the Vatican.