Huffpost Religion

US: Vatican Relations Strong Despite Cable Leak

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ROME — Washington's relationship with the Holy See is too strong to be undermined by WikiLeaks revelations, the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican said in an AP interview Friday.

Among thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables being leaked by the secret-spilling site are comments on aggressive Vatican diplomacy to head off law suits in the sex abuse scandals and claims that some Vatican officials harbor anti-Semitic sentiments.

Miguel H. Diaz said there are always "ups and downs" in any relationship and they sometimes end in divorce, but he didn't see the WikiLeaks issue as "one of those situations."

Diaz represents the Obama administration, which has come under sharp attack by some in the Catholic church for its support of abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research.

Pope Benedict XVI stressed the church's position on the issues when President Barack Obama visited the Vatican in 2009. Vatican officials said Obama pledged to seek to reduce abortions, a promise the president made publicly during a visit to Notre Dame University. The visit was nevertheless opposed by conservative Catholics because Obama supports abortion rights.

Obama's election presented a challenge for the Vatican after eight years of common ground with President George W. Bush in opposing abortion, an issue that drew them together despite the Vatican's opposition to the war in Iraq.

"There has never been a time in any administration in which there is 100 percent consensus across the board," Diaz said.

The United States only established formal diplomatic ties with the Vatican 27 years ago under President Ronald Reagan, who forged a close relationship with Polish-born Pope John Paul II helped by their mutual opposition to Communism.

From an era with a rallying cry of "tear down this wall," Obama has moved to "building bridges" to overcome differences, Diaz said.

He cited U.S.-Vatican cooperation on promoting human rights and religious freedom, opposing the trafficking of human beings and working with the Catholic charity Caritas on relief efforts after the deadly earthquake in Haiti and elsewhere.

Hispanics make up a large segment of the U.S. Catholic population, and the Havana-born Diaz, a university theology professor who is a Roman Catholic, is the first Hispanic to serve Washington as envoy to the Holy See. Polls showed Obama received a majority of Catholic votes.

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