U.S. Envoy Says Washington and Holy See Share Common Values

Nicholson Contends War Hasn’t Cooled Relations With Vatican

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ROME, APRIL 13, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. ambassador to the Vatican said that relations between Washington and the Holy See are good because “we are really close in values.”

In an interview Saturday with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Ambassador James Nicholson said the Iraqi question has not “cooled” relations between his government and the Holy See.

“President Bush and the Vatican really share many things: respect for life, for the dignity of man, for religious liberty, and for human rights,” the ambassador said. “We are really close in values; we are like this.”

Nicholson addressed the difference of positions on the Iraqi conflict by referring to the Pope’s address of Jan. 13.

“When speaking to the diplomats of the whole world, the Pope said: ‘No to war. It is not always inevitable.’ On this, the United States was completely in agreement. He added: ‘War must be the last recourse.’ And on this we were also in agreement,” the ambassador said.

“A few days later, he spoke again on the issue: ‘war is a failure for humanity.’ We were also in agreement in this case,” Nicholson added. “Essentially, we have not been opposed to the Pope’s statements. He is a man of peace; he cannot express himself any other way.

“Moreover, he has never said: ‘War is immoral.’ The doctrine of the Church considers the theory of a just war, for example, in the case when a country is attacked or runs the risk of an imminent attack. President Bush believed that the United States was facing such a situation. The Pope did not share this judgment.”

Nicholson said that the Pope’s addresses in favor of peace “have had a positive effect in the Muslim world.”

“They understood that no religious trench was being erected,” he added.

As proof of the good relations between the Vatican and the United States, Nicholson referred to the April 9 meeting between John Bolton, U.S. undersecretary of state for armaments control and international security, and Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, Vatican secretary for relations with states.

“Both have common opinions on the role the Church can play in this context in Iraq,” he said.

“The United States hopes that the world will make its own the Pope’s exhortation: ‘Men must learn to live in reciprocal tolerance,'” Nicholson said. “The objective of the United States is to avoid the clash of civilizations.”

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ZENIT Staff

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