Pope's annual encounter with diplomatic corps Pope's annual encounter with diplomatic corps  (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

US Ambassador to Holy See discusses Pope’s meeting with diplomats

In an interview with Vatican News following Pope Francis’ annual address to members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, US Ambassador to the Holy See Joseph Donnelly reflects on the Pope’s words and the role of ambassadors and States in promoting peace.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Ambassador Joseph Donnelly, the US Ambassador to the Holy See, has suggested  Pope Francis’ words to diplomats are a call to action, and an encouragement to work together to promote human rights and protect the planet.

In an interview with Vatican News at the Vatican Radio headquarters, the Ambassador offered his reflections after his time in the Vatican for the Pope’s annual address to members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, also exchanging New Year's greetings with them.

In the interview, the American diplomat discusses the impact of the Pope’s words, the responsibility of ambassadors and States, and also comments on the Pope’s appeal for Jerusalem.

Pope Francis walking with US Ambassador to the Holy See, Joseph Donnelly
Pope Francis walking with US Ambassador to the Holy See, Joseph Donnelly

Ambassador Donnelly had presented his credential letters to Pope Francis last April in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

Diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the United States of America were established between Pope St. John Paul II and US President Ronald Reagan on 10 January 1984.

Ambassador Donnelly, married with two children – and a new grandchild, was appointed to serve as the 12th US Ambassador to the Holy See on 24 January and was confirmed by the US Senate in February 2022.

“My family and I are proud to be members of the Catholic faith, and through my years of public service, the Church has been a core part of my life and my values.”

Ambassador what struck you most about Pope Francis’ address to the diplomatic corps this morning?

What struck me in particular was that the past year has been a hard year for peace, and we are all hopeful that this upcoming year we can help achieve that.

After Russia's invasion and attack of Ukraine, we are hoping that that can be ended and that peace can be achieved and that everybody has a chance to share in God's grace.

The Pope said this morning that the task of diplomacy is precisely to resolve conflicts and thus to foster a climate of reciprocal cooperation and trust for the sake of meeting common needs. How can diplomats, concretely, live out this mandate?

By working with all of the other diplomats that are in the community, by working with, for instance, here, the Holy See. I've worked extensively with them on behalf of the United States to help Ukraine, to help keep them safe, to work on climate change, to work on so many critical issues. Our job is to try to bring people together and to try to make it so that we can get closer to a peaceful planet.

How would you say the Pope’s words are especially timely, and also relevant to the United States?

Well, our country is so giving and so caring. We are obviously central to helping feed the world. And the Pope talked about the critical importance that everybody be able to have a place to sleep and a meal in their stomach at that time. And the United States has been incredibly graceful on that. I come from the state of Indiana, where across our state and across the whole country, our farmers go to work every day to make sure that every child can have a full stomach. The United States has been Ukraine's partner in helping them protect their freedom and helping them to not to be taken by the violence of Russia.

The Pope spoke of the Holy city of Jerusalem. Expressing his concern over the increased violence, he expressed his hope that the authorities of the State of Israel and those of the State of Palestine can recover the courage and determination to dialogue directly for the sake of implementing the two-state solution in all its aspects. As US Ambassador to the Holy See, how do you welcome the Pope’s words?

We share the Pope's hopes. The United States supports the two-state solution and there will be success in these negotiations and in the efforts in Israel when every child, whether they are Palestinian or from Israel, has a chance to see their dreams, their life, their hopes come true, and that they be able to live in peace with each other.

And the Pope had very strong words about climate change and protecting the environment, didn't he?

Our planet is God's creation and we are the stewards. It is up to us. And who better than Pope Francis to talk to the world and say, look, we have one planet, we are one people, and either we do this together or we suffer together. And so, it is part of his inherent message in representing the Church that he tell everybody, look, this is God's creation. We are obligated to do the right thing.

Ambassador Donnelly, what will you take most with you?

It is the inherent goodness of Francis, the knowledge that when I met with him personally. You could see. That in this one person he carries so much burden because he worries about every, every country, every person, every problem.

There's not a moment where he can look up and go, oh, everything's solved because the next thing is coming. And so, what I will take is that he is an extraordinary messenger. He is somebody who, even in his eighties, is working hard every single day and does it with a smile on his face.

Listen to our interview with US Ambassador to the Holy See Joseph Donnelly:

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09 January 2023, 12:35