Vatican Emphasizes Strength of Relations With Ireland

Comments on Irish Decision to Close Embassy

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 4, 2011 ( The director of the Vatican press office responded to Ireland’s announcement that it will be closing its embassy to the Holy See, by emphasizing that diplomatic relations between the two states are not at issue.

Ireland announced Thursday that as part of cost-cutting measures, it will close its embassy to the Vatican, as well as its embassy to Iran and its representative office in Timor Leste.

Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi released a statement, affirming, «Of course, any state which has diplomatic relations with the Holy See is free to decide, according to its possibilities and its interests, whether to have an ambassador to the Holy See resident in Rome, or resident in another country. What is important are diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the states, and these are not at issue with regard to Ireland.»

Cardinal Sean Brady, primate of All Ireland, was more critical. Though he pointed out that Eamon Gilmore, minister for Foreign Affairs, presented the decision as «regrettable but necessary» in the light of the current economic situation and «not related to recent exchanges between the government and the Holy See,» the cardinal nevertheless expressed «profound disappointment.»

He noted the move means that «Ireland will be without a resident ambassador to the Holy See for the first time since diplomatic relations were established and envoys were exchanged between the two states in 1929.»

Cardinal Brady suggested the decision «seems to show little regard for the important role played by the Holy See in international relations and of the historic ties between the Irish people and the Holy See over many centuries.»

He expressed his hope that «the close and mutually beneficial cooperation between Ireland and the Holy See in the world of diplomacy can continue — based on shared commitment to justice, peace, international development and concern for the common good.»

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