Although frequently unacknowledged and misunderstood, the relationship between the US and the Holy See can play an important role in soft-power dynamics. During Monday’s Bradley Lecture at AEI, Francis Rooney, former ambassador to the Holy See, illustrated the importance of the Vatican as a force for good, equality, and free enterprise in the diplomatic world, a topic he explores in his newly released book, “The Global Vatican.”
According to Rooney, the values of individual liberty, private property, and the rights of man are all core principles of Catholic Church doctrine, and therefore make the Holy See a natural diplomatic partner to the US. He argued that diplomatic relations between the two were sporadic for the majority of America’s early history, but played an important role in the nation’s emergence as a world superpower by aiding the US during World War II, by helping stem the growth of Communism in Italy, and by fostering democracy in Eastern European nations, which facilitated the fall of the Soviet Union.
Rooney continued, “it’s not lost on the Church that those who have had their lives improved most by globalization” are those who have needed it most; for example, in areas of Africa and Latin America, economic progress has spurred democracy, individual rights and freedoms, and free enterprise. Rooney closed by expressing hope that the US and Holy See will work together to promote their shared values, making them a joint force for good in an increasingly secularized, radicalized, and difficult global landscape.–Laura Lalinde