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"The quest for freedom, justice, peace and human dignity"

Last week, Mary Ann Glendon officially took up her new post when she presented Pope Benedict XVI with her credentials as "Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Holy See." In her address toHis Holiness, she mentioned the importance of "ongoing conversation -- a dialogue -- based on mutual respect, understanding and trust" and she spoke of the efforts that the United States is making to encourage interfaithcommunication.Glendonalso mentioned that 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of "two important international documents that were the fruits of collaboration among persons of many different faiths and cultures -- the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide." She continued saying, "It is my heartfelt desire that we will work together to commemorate the anniversary of both the Declaration of Human Rights and the Genocide Convention in a fitting manner." I think thatwould be great and I hope that this commemoration becomes something people are aware of.To read her entire address, go here.In my opinion, this is a tough time to be the United States Ambassador to the Vatican, but Ibet Mary Ann Glendon will do pretty well in her new position.

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I don't know if I will ever get used to the Vatican's diplomatic standing. I wonder if any theologian in modern times has ever done a paper on the significance of those 109 acres and its government. "The Holy See's diplomatic history began in the fourth century, but the boundaries of the papacy's temporal power have shifted over the centuries. From the 8th century through the middle of the 19th century, the Popes held sway over the Papal States, which included a broad band of territory across central Italy. In 1860, after prolonged civil and regional unrest, Victor Emmanuel's army seized the Papal States, leaving only Rome and surrounding coastal regions under papal control." (From the State Department website)If you google "the theology of the Holy See", you will find listed number 1 Joseph Ratzinger's 1984 document on Liberation Theology issued by the CDF. The document is quite concerned about the proletariat of Marx becoming confused with the poor of the gospel. The document also shows, in my opinion, a terrible theology of the church, held by the CDF and the present bishop of Rome. The church as people is quite subservient to the church as hierarchy. It is certainly worth going through to understand the thinking ot BXVI. No worry. There is no chance that anyone residing in those 109 acres is in any danger of starving and for being mistaken for the poor and the downtrodden. Yet the Magnificat is preached up and down the place. I would say that it is easier to be the US envoy to the Vatican than it is easier to understand that fourth century creation.

But Bill, aren't you excited about the fact that there is a woman in a powerful position of leadership in the church? I mean that's pretty cool.

Take a look at Msgr. Harry Byrne's latest post at Archangel on the forthcoming visit of BXVI to the Big Apple, See the high estem in which the laity and even lower clergy are held.Bill M. has a point to make about both history and current relationships in the Church.Many good broad things can happen from the Vatican -focusing on Genocide, the Pope's meting with muslim scholars in November etc. may produce some fruit of note on the world stage.It's sad to see a lot of what's happening inside the Church whre leadership does very little listening bottom up.

Whenever I'm reminded that the Catholic Church has diplomatic relations with the United States et al, I think of the passages from Matthew 10:5-25. For example:Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts. No sack for the journey. No second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. Stay with a worthy person in any town visited. When entering a house, wish it peace. "Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you..., and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. You will be [told what to say and how to say it].""No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master.""It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master."See www.usccb.org/nab/bible/matthew/matthew10.htm

"But Bill, arent you excited about the fact that there is a woman in a powerful position of leadership in the church? I mean thats pretty cool."Indeed I am, Marianne, as I am about your presence in Commonweal. Glendon is part of the "Gang of Four" of prominent conservative Catholics which includes, Robert Novak, George Siegal and Neuhaus. But she does come across with more credibility than they do. I wonder how she feels about the fact that she can be the Ambassador to the Holy See but not the Holy See's ambassador to anyone. But you are right. This is a gender appointment of historic proportions. Kudos to you for informing us.

Mary Ann Glendon is a Boston Catholic that has never made, as far as I know a 'peep' about the abuse crisis. And that's a rare bird,I look forward to a replacement next year with the Democratic administration

Please enlighten me. How is Glendon's being the US ambassador to the Holy See "a woman in a powerful position of leadership in the church?"Now, if as mentioned above, she was to be made the Holy See's Ambassador to the US, that would be a start, but a long way nonetheless a powerful position in the leadership of the Church.Being a female cardinal would be a position of churchly power!

I remember, but can't find a reference, when a bishop from Africa suggested including women as cardinals. It was during one of John Paul II's synods of bishops. During my papacy, there would have been cardinals from some of the leaders of religious orders, male and female.