Wednesday, November 23, 2011

AUSTRALIA : VATICAN EMBASSY TIES STRENGTHENED

REPORT OF Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese, The relationship between Australia and the Holy See changed back in 2008. For years both countries had diplomatic relations, but Australia didn't have an actual embassy to the Vatican in Rome, nor a resident ambassador. But just a few years ago, that all changed.

Tim Fischer
Australian Ambassador to the Holy See
"Our previous ambassador had to fly to Rome, two or three times a year and build up contacts in a restrictive time period. I have the opportunity of course of the 12 months of each year to attend a lot of functions, do a lot of networking."

That diplomatic relationship took off after pope Benedict XVI celebrated World Youth Day in Sydney. Fischer says, having a resident ambassador has without a doubt, improved the communication between both countries.

Ambassador Fischer will soon complete his three year term. This year alone, he helped organize a trip from the Vatican's train station to the Italian town of Orvieto, to celebrate Caritas' 60th anniversary. Most recently, under the initiative of Australian Bishops, the Domus Australia was opened and personally blessed by the pope.

When it comes to issues that directly concern Australians back at home, the embassy has organized discussions on climate change, food production and famine.

Tim Fischer
Australian Ambassador to the Holy See
"It doesn't all relate to New York, Washington, Paris, London and Berlin. The focus of Rome, most notably on food and agriculture with the 'FAO' and the work of the Vatican in that area, is just another dimension."

But that's not the case for everyone. Ireland recently decided to close its embassies in Iran, East Timor and the Vatican to reportedly save money. Although diplomatic relations will remain with each one of these countries, some say the international collaboration between Ireland and the Holy See, will notably suffer without a resident ambassador.

Fischer says, being an ambassador to the Vatican, encompasses much more than just religion.

Tim Fischer
Australian Ambassador to the Holy See
"Being on the ground, means more networking, more contact, more momentum and more profile for Australia in this hub, incredible hub of the Eternal City of Rome."

The Holy See has formal diplomatic relations with roughly 176 countries. But when it comes to having an actual resident ambassador in Rome, the number is 78.

http://www.sydneycatholic.org/news/latest_news/2011/20111122_1581.shtml

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