Did Benedict Snub Rice?

Did Benedict Snub Rice? September 19, 2007

The Italian press is notoriously gossipy, but that’s what Corriere Della Serra seems to be suggesting. On a trip to the Middle East this summer, Condoleeza Rice sought an audience with the pope. None was forthcoming. Corriere speculates:

“The refusal may also have been prompted by Ms Rice’s stance in 2003, when she was Mr Bush’s national security adviser. On the eve of the Iraqi conflict, it was Ms Rice who said bluntly that she did not understand the Vatican’s anti-war stance. She treated John Paul II’s envoy, Cardinal Pio Laghi, with a coolness that bordered on disrespect when he was sent to Washington on 2 March 2003 on a desperate mission to avert military intervention. Clearly, the incident has not been forgotten.”

(Hat tip: Josh Marshall).

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  • Benedict doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who would fall into tit-for-tat snubbing.

  • digbydolben

    This is not “tit for tat” snubbing. It’s a very formal act of diplomatic delicateness that sends a message that NEEDS to be sent to ill-educated, provincial Amerikan functionaries who must SOMETIMES be informed that the Holy See has REAL POWER that NEEDS sometimes to be used in defense of those being abused by the neo-fascist “superpower.”

    Does NO ONE here remember the first Bush Administration’s blustering LIES when Noriega was pulled out of the Vatican’s nunciature in Panama, that NO GUARANTEES were given John Paul II that Noriega would not face the death sentence in an Amerikan court, although Strom Thurmond had just had just had “drug running” designated a CAPITAL federal crime? The European press was all over that LIE, which John Paul II’s Vatican studiously ignored, but which was NEVER addressed in the corrupt, fawning Amerikan media.

  • jh

    Good Grief Digby lol
    I am sure the White House is aware that Rome is a REAL power. By the way the piece mentions a phone call between Rice and the Vatican Secreatary of State
    Here is what the Cardinal Said dueing his news Conference on his incredible trip to the USA
    “Regarding conversations with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and a possible visit of Pope Benedict to the United States.

    The telephone conversation should really remain private – notwithstanding the fact that some of those conversations may be able to be tapped. The conversations dealt primarily with the state of Christians in the Middle East. I recognize the untiring efforts of the American Secretary of State in her work. I told her that her travels by plane, in her efforts for peace, are accompanied by the angels. If they weren’t accompanied by the angels, then she would never be able to knit back together all of these relationships that have been so fragile and difficult. I think that we will be able to continue these discussions during a future visit of the Secretary of State of the United States to Rome.

    As you know, the visit of the Holy Father [to the United States] is a work in progress. Perhaps the Apostolic Nuncio, present here, will be convening meetings of the interested parties, as the planning stages go further for this particular visit, probably next year.”

    http://www.kofc.org/un/eb/en/convention_2007/newsroom/pressconference.html
    The whole thing is actually a good read

  • This is not “tit for tat” snubbing. It’s a very formal act of diplomatic delicateness that sends a message that NEEDS to be sent to ill-educated, provincial Amerikan functionaries who must SOMETIMES be informed that the Holy See has REAL POWER that NEEDS sometimes to be used in defense of those being abused by the neo-fascist “superpower.”

    Chill, yo.

    This probably explains it: “The newspaper said the pope had rejected all meetings with political representatives during August.”

    Benedict has devoted numerous homilies to the importance of taking vacations and personal rest — I can point you to them if you’d like. I’m sure if he intends to take a holiday, he means what he says, regardless of the personal demands of various diplomats.

  • I personally don’t put too much confidence on these news, because that would make the Pope’s diplomacy just as the Bush administration’s foreign policy: “I don’t talk to those people I don’t like.”

    And as Chris said, I don’t think that’s the Pope.

  • Who would’ve thunk: Katrina and I agree on something? 😉

  • Seriously: it’s really just speculation at the moment. This is the same media who started the ‘Regensburg Rage’ with t heir incompetent reporting of the Pope’s address, looking for something salacious and fanned the flames of Islamic hysteria.

  • digbydolben

    No, I WILL NOT “chill.”

    FYI, During the time that I lived outside of the United States, part of that period was spent in the “Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.” Early during my stay there, I was informed that a group of “Marxist priests” were trying to prevent the construction of a new “Voice of America” station at Iranawilla on the West coast of the island country, facing India.

    Disbelieving Amerikan State Department propoganda being peddles in Colombo, the capital of the country to almost the entire expatriate community (except the British, God bless ’em, who refused to believe a WORD of it, despite their normal anti-clerical biases), I resolved to do a little investigative work.

    What I learned was that a large community of Tamil stilt-fishers, who’d been fishing off the West Coast of Sri Lanka since the time that Xavier had “Christianized” them in the 16th century had appealed to their priests to help them stop the condemnation of several thousand acres of prime coconut land, including a long seacoast, for the purposes of turning it over to information services connected to the U.S. State Dept. The fisherfolk protested that stilt-fishing was all they knew how to do and that, if evicted from their ancestral home, they’d probably be homeless beggars in the streets of Colombo. The priests were afraid to become involved, but the Tamils appealed to the Bishop of Negombo, who did approach his parliamentarians in order to modify or halt the Amerikan initiative. And then all hell broke loose with the Amerikan State Department’s hyperbole and slander about “Communism” and “anti-Americanism,” etc. I found, when I investigated, that the only people in the whole country who actually knew the truth and were able to tell it to the media were the Catholic religious in the country.

    THEY were the ones who told me that their own parliamentarians, under the pressure of the Amerikans, were claiming to be unable to release the Lankan environmental impact studies, because they might “embarrass” the Amerikans. They were the ones who were able to tell me that there was concern that the construction of this installation, designed to broadcast to half the world, from Rekjayvik to Capetown, from Mongolia to the Hebrides, may have been in violation of the Indo-Lankan Accord of 1987. They also knew of the late Pope’s solicitude regarding the rights of indigenous peoples on the Western Hemisphere. They planned to appeal to Pontiff, at the time of his arrival in Colombo, to canonize Joseph Vaz, to help them stop the forced eviction of the fishing people.

    I encouraged them to do so, and, using the “Freedom of Information” law, I obtained, with the help of friends in D.C., the Amerikan environmental impact statements and had them closely examined by former employees of the Department of Energy, including my own father, who knows something about E.P.A. regulations. The impact statements were bogus, conducted by contractors who flew into Sri Lanka for a few days–in one case, less than a full day–and proceeded to write bogus reports. I supplied the reports to the Bishop of Negombo and almost lost my job in the country for having done so.

    John Paul II is said to have spoken to Kumaratunga, the lady President of the country, in very vague terms, about the consequences to people living traditionally of overly-precipitous development, but it is doubtful that the full import of the fraudulently composed environmental impact statements were ever explained to him.

    The Tamils are now beggars on the streets of Colombo, Amerika has its “Voice of Amerika” station at Iranawilla, Sri Lanka, and the only postive result of all of this is that the Catholic hierarchy of South Asia are somewhat wiser, somewhat disabused regarding the supposed altruistic purpose of the Amerikan hegemonists. I will take the word of Catholic clerics–especially clerics from Third World countries–about conditions outside this country over servants of the Amerikan government any day, and for the rest of my life.

  • What’s “Amerika?” I’ve never heard of that place…

  • Donald R. McClarey

    “Amerika” is an imaginary place created by some Americans of a leftist bent in which they can pretend that their native land is an analogue of Nazi Germany. For readers it is primarily of use as a “kook” detector, much like the phrases “black helicopters”, “9-11 was an inside job”, etc.

  • digbydolben

    No, Mr. McClarey, it’s the name of the country that derives from the title of Franz Kafka’s clairvoyant novel about a surreal anti-community that he foresaw arising out of the MECHANIZATION and COMMODIFICATION of human relationships being effected by ALL groundless, rootless and atheistic states, whether they subscribe to ideologies of the “right” or the “left.”

    And it’s a very REAL place spiritually, and I WILL continue to use it all the rest of my life, unless and until the region of my cultural background re-converts to “first things” which are far different from those of YOUR favourite ayatollah, the “Reverend Neuhaus.”

    And to be called a “kook” by a neo-fascist is a very HIGH HONOUR.

  • Policraticus

    I like Kafka.

  • Amerika. Love it or leave it!

  • I like Kafka.

    Ever see Brazil? — Great film.

  • digbydolben

    Also, it looks to me that the commenters at “Americanpapist,” which is a site that is at least as right wing as the right-wing commenters here, have a slightly different take on the “papal snub” than do the usual Amerika-apologists here:

    http://www.haloscan.com/comments/americanpapist/7778886355626385741/

    But maybe not–maybe the “americanpapist” and his following are REAL “conservatives”–you know, the libertarian kind, with BURKEAN perspectives, whose ultra-nationalism, unlike Mr. McClarey’s, is tempered by genuinely Christian “first principles.”

  • I’ll refrain from rendering a verdict on Thomas Peter’s conservative credentials, but I’m more in agreement with this commentator at Catholic World News:

    “It is true that during August the Holy Father did not hold private audiences with political leaders at his summer residence on Castel Gandolfo.”

    Is it ever possible to leave it at that and not speculate on various sundry motives and unstated concerns that the Holy Father might harbor?

    One can only hope.

  • I think it’s entirely probable that Benedict would rank Condi pretty low on his list of priorities.

    If a story came out that Benedict “snubbed” some pro-choice “leftie,” rest assured many of you would spin that story similarly.

  • If a story came out that Benedict “snubbed” some pro-choice “leftie,” rest assured many of you would spin that story similarly.

    Because then it would be entirely justified. 😉

  • Because then it would be entirely justified. 😉

    You have proven my point.

  • Dibgy,

    Your extended story falls prey to a basic fallacy: Even if the construction of the radiostation was misguided in its placing, and thus caused great harm to the stilt fishers, that does not necessarily mean that the message being broadcast via that station was wrong, or that the Marxists who were (at least back in the day) the primary target of the broadcasts were right.

    If you want to talk about a mechanized and inhuman society, look at the communist regimes under which Voice of America and the BBC World Service were come of the only real news that people could get.

    Now, the fact that communism is bad doesn’t mean that everything about the modern US is good — but still, deciding that everything about American and its efforts to provide news and hope to the oppressed was EVIL (I’m trying to speak caps, but it’s not my native language) based on the location of one radio station seems a bit… unbalanced.

  • digbydolben

    You know, DarwinCatholic, I feel sorry for you: with a mind so dulled by Amerikan nationalist propoganda and obviously having never challenged yourself to experience any experiential solidarity with the suffering poor of the world being CRUCIFIED by globalist capitalism (about whose depredations I could recount to you MANY more stories from my own experience beside the one above), you are absolutely incapable of feeling any empathy with those poor–and devoutly Catholic–fisherfolk I describe above.

    And as far as your observation that I’ve become “unbalanced” by the degree of empathy I came to feel for them and others, I’m as proud of that impassioned “un-balance” as I am of Mr. McClarey’s designation of me as a “kook.”

  • Pingback: Secretary Rice and Catholic bishops…a cold relationship? « Vox Nova()

  • Donald R. McClarey

    To be called a neo-fascist by a kook is no insult. Get help digbydolben, you really need it.

  • Questions about our inability to experience solidarity with the suffering poor due to minds dulled by Amerikan Nationalist Propaganda notwithstanding (thanks for the laugh), it appears the whole flap about Rice and the Vatican was much ado about nothing:“The only reason she wasn’t received was that she came during a period when the pope doesn’t receive anyone. It was a purely technical question of protocol,” an informed Vatican source told Catholic News Service Sept. 20.

    The source said it was “absolutely not” the Vatican’s intention to rebuff Rice or signal disagreement with U.S. policy on the Middle East.

    Rice was about to travel to the Middle East for diplomatic talks in early August when the request for a papal meeting was made. The pope was vacationing at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, outside Rome.

    Even as it declined the request, the source said, the Vatican made it clear that top officials of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State would be happy to meet with Rice at any time.

  • Questions about our inability to experience solidarity with the suffering poor due to minds dulled by Amerikan Nationalist Propaganda notwithstanding (thanks for the laugh), it appears the whole flap about Rice and the Vatican was much ado about nothing:“The only reason she wasn’t received was that she came during a period when the pope doesn’t receive anyone. It was a purely technical question of protocol,” an informed Vatican source told Catholic News Service Sept. 20.

    The source said it was “absolutely not” the Vatican’s intention to rebuff Rice or signal disagreement with U.S. policy on the Middle East.

    Rice was about to travel to the Middle East for diplomatic talks in early August when the request for a papal meeting was made. The pope was vacationing at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, outside Rome.

    Even as it declined the request, the source said, the Vatican made it clear that top officials of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State would be happy to meet with Rice at any time.

  • digbydolben

    Mr. McClary, you obviously don’t understand how foreign offices or diplomatic bureaus work. I strongly recommend that you read the segments of Proust’s Search for Lost Time. in which Monsieur de Norpois explains to the Narrator the subtle signals used by diplomats to indicate nuances of policy or shifts in national interest to each other. The Vatican’s diplomats, as I’ve said here before, are some of the shrewdest, most skilled and best informed on earth, and, as Monsieur de Norpois explains, among such diplomats NOTHING is done by “accident,” or for so paltry a reason as a “need for a vacation.” The slight to Rice was meant to be noticed by the Amerikan State Department, but it was also not meant to indicate any profound shift in opposition, just displeasure, and, as soon as it was noticed by the media–which it was never meant to be, the audience for it being intended to have been strictly limited to other practicioners of statecraft–of course it was swiftly retracted. That could easily have been anticipated. That doesn’t make it any less a sign of displeasure with recent Amerikan foreign policy than others writing here have indicated.

  • digbydolben

    Mr. McClary, you obviously don’t understand how foreign offices or diplomatic bureaus work. I strongly recommend that you read the segments of Proust’s Search for Lost Time. in which Monsieur de Norpois explains to the Narrator the subtle signals used by diplomats to indicate nuances of policy or shifts in national interest to each other. The Vatican’s diplomats, as I’ve said here before, are some of the shrewdest, most skilled and best informed on earth, and, as Monsieur de Norpois explains, among such diplomats NOTHING is done by “accident,” or for so paltry a reason as a “need for a vacation.” The slight to Rice was meant to be noticed by the Amerikan State Department, but it was also not meant to indicate any profound shift in opposition, just displeasure, and, as soon as it was noticed by the media–which it was never meant to be, the audience for it being intended to have been strictly limited to other practicioners of statecraft–of course it was swiftly retracted. That could easily have been anticipated. That doesn’t make it any less a sign of displeasure with recent Amerikan foreign policy than others writing here have indicated.