- The Washington Times - Friday, November 29, 2013

Former Florida Gov. and presidential maybe Jeb Bush weighed in this week on President Obama’s call to shutter the freestanding U.S. Embassy to the Holy See and move it to America’s existing embassy property in Rome, pondering in a tweet: Is that retribution?

“Why would our President close our Embassy to the Vatican? Hopefully, it is not retribution for Catholic organizations opposing Obamacare,” Mr. Bush tweeted, Newsmax reported.

Catholic groups have lashed at Obamacare’s birth control mandates since the law’s beginning days, calling a dictate that private businesses and faith-based organizations provide the coverage a cut-and-dry religious freedom violation. But the White House refused to bend on the matter, sparking even more backlash — and now leading to at least one highly placed politico wondering if the Mr. Obama was using Chicago-type politics to send a message back to the church.

The State Department said the embassy is only be relocated out of safety and security reasons, as to save some money, Newsmax reported.

But Mr. Bush is not alone in his criticism of the relocation, which is due to take effect in 2015, CNN reported. Several former diplomats have objected to the decision — most notably, former U.S. Ambassador James Nicholson, who derided the Obama administration for its “massive downgrade of U.S.-Vatican ties,” in the National Catholic Reporter.

On Fox News, Mr. Nicholson spoke even more bluntly, calling Mr. Obama’s decision “almost inexplicable” and describing the relocation as a dangerous downgrade for the church.


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“[With all the] unrest, upheaval, discrimination and violence … against Christians in the Middle East, this post we have is a key place,” he said, Newsmax reported. “[And it] seems very odd to diminish the stature of this to move it into some office annex … Clearly, this is a rebuke of the importance of this relationship with the Vatican … an insult to American Catholics. It won’t have the stature and influence it used to have in dealing with these very serious problems.”

The Vatican has downplayed the relocation.

One official speaking for the Holy See said the Vatican knows that the United States has valid security concerns and that while the relocation is “not the ideal,” it’s also “not the end of the world,” Newsmax reported.

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