Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Vatican and the USA - Born to Fight?

Ed Brayton reports (via) that a fake nation-state has come up with fake objections to President Obama's ambassadorial appointments:

The Vatican has quietly rejected at least three of President Obama's candidates to serve as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See because they support abortion ...
To which Brayton proposes a sensible diplomatic response:
I've got a better idea: how about the telling the Vatican to go to hell?
This is exactly right, and not only in a snarky way. The USA rests on founding documents that lay out a distinct set of principles; the Vatican is also founded on a well-defined set of principles and outright doctrines; the USA's founders did not consult the Pope in forming its doctrines, nor did the Vatican consult the USA in forming its own; and now, to no reasonable observer's surprise, the foundational ideals of these respective nation-states differ markedly.

For example, the Vatican is constitionally (so to speak) obsessed with the fate of blastocysts, while the USA is not; the Vatican is committed to turning the world Catholic, while the USA is not; the USA stands for separation of church and state, while the Vatican is both a church and a state; the USA institutionalizes democracy (both representative and direct), while the Vatican rejects it as a dangerous vulgarity; the USA prosecutes and imprisons child rapists under due process of law, while the Vatican shuffles them to different jurisdictions, tells them to confess, and insists they rub magic beads together while chanting things in Latin.

If these nation-states come to too much comity, it should be taken as a strong indicator that at least one of them is compromising its fundamental ideals.

I say President Obama should just keep offering qualified delegates to the Vatican, and the Vatican can go ahead and keep rejecting and/or denouncing them. The perpetuation of this cycle can remind everyone who cares to look that these two nation-states -- well, one nation-state and a half, tops -- stand for profoundly different things. That which is not worth doing is not worth doing well, and placing a US delegation inside the walls of the Vatican is not worth doing.

None of which is to say the USA should not speak with the Vatican or indulge its pretensions to nationhood. The USA can and should engage with the Vatican when matters of shared concern arise, but there is such a thing as too much goodwill between a democratic republic and a theocracy.

3 comments:

Mike said...

Why bother with a separate entity to talk to them? It seems to me that there are already plenty of Vatican toadies in the US to whom we could speak if we need to discuss some matter of shared concern. Just call up the local archbishop or cardinal or whatever and ask him to pass the word. There's also the ambassador to Italy right there. I'm sure someone from the embassy - preferably a good Lutheran - could go over and nail a note onto the Pope's door.

TheDeviantE said...

This is so well put, both succinct and fully explained. I don't really know what else to say.

Dale said...

Mike, good point -- of all the nations of the world, real and fake, the Vatican is the least likely to run out of spokespeople. They're everywhere.

DeviantE, thanks for the kind words.