1st US Ambassador to Vatican Dies at 95

Appointed After Reagan Established Ties With Holy See

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

LOS ANGELES, DEC. 9, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The first U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, appointed under President Ronald Reagan, died Saturday at 95. He had cancer.

William A. Wilson was a Catholic convert who joined the Church after he married his wife, Elizabeth.

He was one of Reagan’s friends and confidantes, helping Reagan decide to run for governor and continuing to support his political career.

The two shared a love for horseback riding, and had neighboring ranches in California.

The president chose Wilson to be his personal envoy to the Vatican in 1981. At that time, the U.S. and the Vatican did not have diplomatic relations because of a U.S. law passed in 1867, shortly after the end of the U.S. Civil War.

When the law was repealed, Reagan established relations with the Vatican and Wilson was appointed ambassador in 1984.

The supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, Carl Anderson, who served in the White House Office of Public Liaison at the time, classified Wilson as the «perfect choice to become America’s first ambassador to the Holy See.»

«He was a close friend of President Reagan, and thus had his complete confidence as he set about the task of getting our first-ever diplomatic relations off on the right foot,» Anderson said. «And he was both a faithful Catholic and a patriotic American who took great care to ensure that those two loyalties were carefully balanced throughout his years as America’s ambassador at the Vatican.»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation