Like Abortion Groups “The Economist” Hopes Vatican will Lose its Status at United Nations

By John-Henry Westen

  NEW YORK, August 22, 2007 ( - The Vatican has reacted to a suggestion contained in a July 19 issue of "The Economist", one of the world’s leading current affairs weeklies.  Produced in the UK and controlled by the Financial Times, The Economist - the articles of which are always left unsigned since they represent a collective view - called on the Vatican to remove itself from its permanent observer status at the United Nations and become a non-governmental organization alongside the myriad of pressure groups which form the UN’s body of NGOs.

  Headlined, "God’s Ambassadors", the article concluded, "Instead of claiming to practise a form of inter-governmental diplomacy, it could renounce its special diplomatic status and call itself what it is - the biggest non-governmental organization in the world."

  The impetus for the suggestion seems to be the same as that of the long-standing campaign by the militant abortion advocacy group ‘Catholics for a Free Choice’ - namely the Vatican’s unwavering defence of the right to life.  The three sentences in the article which precede the final line quoted above read: "Listing the keystones of foreign policy, Cardinal Tauran stressed the ‘right to life at all stages of biological development’. Statements like that make the Vatican respected in some quarters, mistrusted in others. Some activities, such as taking lethal risks for peace in Burundi, are almost universally admired. But in an age when the power of independent agencies (including Catholic ones) is growing by the day, mightn’t the Vatican enhance its authority by clarifying its own status?"

  The Vatican responded in the August 9 issue of Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference with commentary by French Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states.  "This is certainly not an acceptable invitation" said Archbishop Mamberti.  "It may have arisen from an imprecise understanding of the Holy See’s position in the international community: a position that can be traced back to the beginning of the international community itself, and has been reinforced above all since the end of the nineteenth century."

  The Archbishop pointed out that the Vatican’s status is recognized by nearly 180 nations with whom it has diplomatic relations.  He noted moreover, that the UN body in 2004 expanded the Vatican’s privileges at the United Nations.

  Top Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, who provided an English translation of the interview in Avvenire, adds that with 176 nations having established diplomatic relations with the Vatican, it is easier to count the 17 nations which still do not have such diplomatic relations with the Vatican.  Nine of those are Muslim, and four Communist.

  Archbishop Mamberti points to life and family issues as the motivation behind The Economist’s push, which he says comes as no surprise.  "This is why the Holy See’s activity within the international community is often a ‘sign of contradiction’, because it does not cease to raise its voice in defense of the dignity of each person and of the sacredness of all human life, above all the most vulnerable, and in defense of the family founded upon marriage between one man and one woman. It does not cease to assert the fundamental right to religious freedom, and to promote relations among individuals and peoples founded upon justice and solidarity."

  See related coverage:


  See the article in The Economist:…

  See Sandro Magister’s coverage:

  To comment to The Economist:

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