The WikiLeaks website has released its first U.S. State Department cable from the Embassy to the Holy See. The document concerns American efforts to rally Vatican support for the Copenhagen Accord on climate change.
The cable, apparently created on Jan. 21, 2010, is classified as “Confidential.” It is titled “‘Green’ Pope Supports US Path Forward From Copenhagen.”
It recounts a Jan. 20 meeting between an embassy officer and Dr. Paolo Conversi, calling him the “point person on climate change” for the Holy See’s Secretariat of State. He agreed to encourage countries “discreetly to associate themselves with the Accord, as opportunities arise.”
The Copenhagen Accord is a non-binding expression of commitment to reduce greenhouse emissions and to help developing countries adapt to anticipated climate changes.
According to the cable, Conversi said expectations for the Copenhagen Conference had been “too high.”
The Vatican official also said Pope Benedict had established his “green” reputation by using his New Years’ Day Peace message to highlight environmental protection.
Msgr. James Reinert, the environmental analyst at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told an embassy officer that the profile of environmental issues at the Vatican is “at an all-time high.” He noted that Secretariat of State officers now represented the Holy See at environmental meetings, not his own office.
In its analysis, the State Department cable said Conversi’s offer to support the U.S. is “significant” because “the Vatican is often reluctant to appear to compromise its independence and moral authority by associating itself with particular lobbying efforts.”
“Even more important than the Vatican's lobbying assistance, however, is the influence the Pope's guidance can have on public opinion in countries with large Catholic majorities and beyond,” the cable concluded.
The WikiLeaks website has claimed to have acquired more than 250,000 State Department cables. More than 700 of these involve the U.S. Vatican Embassy, while more than 100 cables from other embassies and consulates are labeled as Vatican-related.
The topics of the cables include intelligence, national security, human rights, and religious freedom issues.
The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See told CNA Dec. 3 that it cannot speak to the authenticity of the WikiLeaks documents. It also condemned “in the strongest terms” any unauthorized disclosure of classified information, saying this could harm individuals and global engagement between nations.