Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) called out President Barack Obama for closing the U.S. embassy to the Vatican, questioning whether the decision was political "retribution" for Catholic opposition to the Affordable Care Act.
Bush tweeted about the closure on Wednesday evening:
Why would our President close our Embassy to the Vatican? Hopefully, it is not retribution for Catholic organizations opposing Obamacare.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) November 27, 2013
Last week, the State Department announced that it would be moving the embassy from its standalone Vatican facility to a larger compound shared with the U.S. Embassy in Italy, as well as the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. According to Religion News Service, the move is anticipated to save the government $1.4 million a year.
Conservatives were quick to criticize Obama on the move.
As CNN reports, the National Republican Senatorial Committee described the relocation as "the latest anti-religion pursuit of this Administration, a slap in the face to Catholic-Americans around the country that weakens America’s position as a global leader."
"It's not just those who bomb churches and kill Catholics in the Middle East who are our antagonists, but it's also those who restrict our religious freedoms and want to close down our embassy to the Holy See," Raymond Flynn, a former envoy to the Vatican, told the National Catholic Reporter.
The administration, however, maintains that the move is not indicative of any strain on the United States' relationship with the Vatican.
According to CNN, a State Department official said the move will result in "no reduction in diplomatic staff, there’s no reduction in ambassadors, there’s no reduction in mission."