Australia, Indonesia to announce new Vatican ambassadors
By David Kerr
St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican flag as seen from the colonnade
St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican flag as seen from the colonnade

.- Australia and Indonesia are set to appoint two new resident ambassadors to the Holy See, easing fears in Rome that some countries would follow in the footsteps of Ireland, which is closing its Vatican embassy.

Australia’s present Vatican ambassador, Tim Fischer, is due to step down in January. He was appointed in 2008 as the country’s first resident ambassador to the Holy See since the two states established relations in 1973.

Indonesia, meanwhile, has not had a resident ambassador in Rome since the early 2011 departure of Suprapto Martosetomo.

Ireland’s decision to withdraw from Rome fueled fears that other country's diplomatic posts would remain unfilled or that other embassies to the Vatican might close. So far, that has not happened.

The two new appointments are not yet public, but CNA has learned from a source in the Vatican diplomatic community that both will be announced in the first quarter of 2012.

At present, the Holy See has diplomatic relations with 179 states, with about half of them maintaining permanent embassies in Rome.

Ireland's new ambassador to the Holy See will reside in Dublin, after the government announced Nov. 3 that it was closing its permanent embassy in Rome, citing financial woes. Some leading Irish Catholics were skeptical of the stated reason for the closure and asserted that it was more likely tied to the fallout between the two states over government reports on clerical abuse.

“I think the benefits of having a resident ambassador are numerous,” said U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Miguel Diaz in Dec. 13 remarks to CNA.

“Certainly the kind of context and relationships that are enabled by that physical presence of an ambassador in a particular place is really something that is hard to deny.”

“Diplomacy is about human relations.” Ambassador Diaz said. “(I)t is about, many times, a physical presence and about being at the right place at the right time and having the contacts to bring about the kind of results we all seek.”

His sentiments were echoed by the resident ambassador from Costa Rica, Fernando Sanchez Campos, who explained to CNA that 64 percent of people in Latin America view the Catholic Church as the most trusted institution in civil society.

“Whatever the Church says is important for people, and whatever the Pope says is important to the world,” he said.

Ambassador Sanchez added, “for any important country that wants to have major diplomatic links, it is important to have a good relationship with the Holy See.”

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