- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 9, 2009


A former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican said Wednesday that the Obama administration appears to be having trouble finding an ambassador acceptable to the Holy See because of a “small field” of pro-life Democrats from which to choose.

Ambassador Raymond Flynn, a pro-life Democrat who served under President Clinton, told Embassy Row that he has heard in Democratic circles that the administration has proposed at least three candidates for the ambassadorship to the Catholic city-state but did not know their names.

Reports from Rome say Vatican officials rejected the three candidates because of their support for abortion.

“It would be highly unusual for the U.S. to have somebody who is pro-choice” as ambassador to the Vatican, said Mr. Flynn, who served as mayor of Boston before his appointment to the position in 1993.

“There is a very small field of pro-life Democrats. That's the dilemma,” he said.

Mr. Flynn also said he has “heard that the Vatican is prepared to say 'no' to any candidate whose views on abortion are contrary to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

“This is one of the most visible” diplomatic positions, he said, adding that serving as ambassador to the Vatican is “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Since the United States established diplomatic relations with the Vatican in 1984, all eight U.S. ambassadors under both Republican and Democratic administrations have opposed abortion.

Italian journalist Massimo Franco, a respected columnist for the Corriere della Sera, reported last week that the Vatican has rejected three ambassadorial candidates submitted by the Obama administration.


The Russian ambassador in Washington this week dismissed Iran's nuclear program, saying he saw no “threat to the United States.”

Ambassador Sergei Kislyak also said the missile-defense system installed by the former Soviet Union would have failed to prevent attacks from NATO.

Speaking at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Mr. Kislyak said, “I don't see any threat to the United States coming from Iran any time soon.”

The U.S. has proposed installing 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic to protect Europe from Iranian nuclear weapons.

Mr. Kislyak said the Soviet defense shield for the old Warsaw Pact was a failure.

“It didn't accomplish a single stated goal that we were told was the reason to deploy it,” he said.

Russia, which signed a deal in 2005 to supply nuclear fuel to Iran, applauded President Obama for his proposal to hold talks with Iran.

“We sense that the American administration is willing at least to engage in serious discussions, and we welcome this,” Mr. Kislyak said.

“We are looking forward to these discussions because things which have been developing so far were of great concern to us.”


The former U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic is returning to his old law firm in Milwaukee.

Ambassador Richard W. Graber, a political supporter of former President George W. Bush, plans to rejoin Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, which represents business clients in Europe and foreign companies in the United States. When he left for Prague in 2006, Mr. Graber was president and chief executive officer of the firm.

He served as chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin from 1999 to 2006 and was a member of the Republican National Committee.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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