In 1984, President Ronald Reagan and Blessed John Paul II formally established diplomatic relations. Thirty years later, that historic event was celebrated today during a reception at the famed Palazzo della Cancelleria, a 15th century Renaissance palace located in the heart of Rome.
Ken Hackett, the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, were there to commemorate the relationship that exists between the two states.
Although diplomatic ties were formally established in the 80s, both Ambassador Hackett and Archbishop Mamberti recalled the roots of diplomatic relations dating back to the birth of America.
The first official contact between the Holy See and the United States was made in 1788, when President George Washington assured Pope Pius VI would have full freedom to appoint bishops in the US. One year later, John Carroll was elected the 1st Bishop of Baltimore, as well as the first Catholic bishop in the United States.
In his address, Archbishop Mamberti said that relations between the Holy See and the US have grown slowly and steadily, and that he was confident the bond between the two states will continue to grow stronger.
“May the friendship and cooperation between the Holy See and the United States of America be ever more strengthened within the family of nations in order that the world may progress in building peace, justice and fraternity,” Archbishop Mamberti said.
“I see nothing but a growth as Archbishop Mamberti alluded to; opportunities for a greater collaboration between our two states where we can work on the issues of peace, justice and poverty,” Ambassador Hackett told ZENIT.
The US Ambassador to the Holy See said that he believes that Pope Francis has “set a very high mark” in bringing attention the poor and marginalized. “I believe very strongly that President [Barack] Obama wants to supercede that mark in the things he does.”
The reception comes at an important time in U.S.-Holy See relations as President Obama will make his first visit to Pope Francis on March 27th. Ambassador Hackett expressed his hope that a personal relationship will develop between the Holy Father and the U.S. President.
“President Obama is passionate about many, many issues that affect those people that fall through the cracks, as is Pope Francis. And I hope that they can find that place where they both can apply that passion,” the ambassador said.
While there is no word on a future visit by Holy Father to the United States was in the works, Ambassador Hackett was hopeful that one would take place. “We would love it, we would love it!”, he exclaimed.