Australian ambassador: countries without Rome-based embassy suffer
Australian Ambassador to the Holy See Tim Fischer
Australian Ambassador to the Holy See Tim Fischer
By David Kerr
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- The departing Australian ambassador to the Holy See says that countries without a resident diplomatic presence in Rome are losing out diplomatically.

“It is so much easier to do the job if you’re on the ground in Rome,” said Ambassador Tim Fischer, who is stepping down from his post this month. He was appointed in 2008 as the first resident ambassador to the Holy See for Australia since the two states established relations in 1973.
“The Vatican is not entirely a closed shop, but you have to know where to look, which conferences to attend, which contacts to pursue. And if you’re only flying in for four times a year from Dublin or from the Hague or from Geneva, then that becomes very difficult to do in a comprehensive and professional way,” he explained in an early January interview with CNA.

Ambassador Fischer’s comments come only two months after Ireland chose to close its embassy to the Holy See in Rome, citing budgetary pressures as the deciding factor. The new Irish ambassador to the Holy See will live in Dublin.

The Holy See currently has diplomatic relations with 179 states, with about half of them maintaining a permanent embassy in Rome.

Ambassador Fischer explained that being so close to the Vatican allows governments to tap into an unparalleled diplomatic network.

“It is the oldest organization in the world, and it does have a huge network,” he said. In fact, “as recently as the Balkans War some of the best information as to what was really happening on the ground was not held by the CIA or the KGB but, in fact, right here in Rome by the Holy See.”

While Ambassador Fischer respects each country’s decision about how to deploy its diplomatic resources, he says that the “general concurrence” within the diplomatic and political community in Rome was that the recent Irish embassy decision “was more political than anything budgetary.”

Since arriving in Rome in January 2009, Tim Fischer has become one of the best connected members of Rome’s diplomatic community. Standing at well over six feet tall and usually sporting a distinctive bush hat, the 65-year-old former Australian deputy Prime Minister has also become one of the best-known and most easily recognizable figures in Vatican circles. During his tenure at the Australian Embassy to the Vatican, he has prioritized the issues of religious freedom, inter-faith dialogue and food security.

As a Catholic, he says his time in Rome has been “uplifting personally as well as professionally,” and that it has been “an absolute delight” to meet “some very wonderful and very senior people, starting with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.”
He was also keen to praise numerous Vatican officials he has dealt with and who are “beavering away behind the scenes and below the radar and who are the most dedicated, dynamic people.”

Ambassador Fischer was given a fond farewell on Jan. 11 at the recently opened center for Australian pilgrims to Rome, Domus Australia. Invited guests were treated to a concert in the center’s St. Peter Chanel chapel, followed by a farewell reception.

The Australian government will announce Ambassador Fischer’s replacement in the coming months.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day

Liturgical Calendar

January 29, 2015

Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 4:1-20


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mk 4:1-20