Former envoy Jim Nicholson has been particularly outspoken:
While Nicholson focused on what he believes to be the crucial diplomatic importance of the Pope, others see it as a slap in the face to the Pope and to American Catholics.
The Obama administration's reasons for the move are not especially persuasive. Italy, unlike Benghazi, is not exactly a hotbed of radicalism and disorder. Well, maybe not radicalism. Moreover, as the most financially profligate administration in history, its concerns about costs ring hollow.
The bottom line, however, is that we never should have established diplomatic relations in the first place.
Vatican City claims to be a distinct sovereign political entity. Despite the long abiding Catholic Church, Vatican City itself is a relatively recent creation. It was established in 1929 in a agreement between the church and then Italian Foreign Minister Benito Mussolini.
More important, Vatican City hardly fits the bill as a "state." Vatican City is confined to a little over 100 acres. Indeed, the original American Embassy, like all other embassies to the Vatican, was not even located WITHIN Vatican City. It was--and still is--in Rome.
Its population is under 1000. The inhabitants do not constitute any distinct "people group." They have no agricultural, industrial, or financial institutions. A few commercial establishments sell mementos to tourists.
Consequently, Vatican City has no trade, trade agreements, and import or export duties. It has no army or navy. The Church hasa bank to conduct its own international transactions. For some reason, it does mint its own hard currency.
It appears the only reason we have diplomatic relations with Vatican City is the perceived value of the Pope as a spokesperson for Western, especially Christian, interests. The idea is that he possess some kind "moral authority," like Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, or
And does not require diplomatic relations between the United States and Vatican City.
The Pope can still operate as an alleged "ambassador for Christ" (2Cor. 5:20).