Tuesday, 24 July 2007

God's ambassadors

The Vatican has one of the world's busiest but least-known diplomatic services. Does it deserve its special status?. I doubt it.

Over the past century—despite the march of secularism—the Vatican's role in world affairs has expanded. The real explosion came under John Paul II. When he was elected, the Holy See had full ties with 85 states. When he died, the figure was 174.
Among states that dropped their misgivings were Margaret Thatcher's Britain, Ronald Reagan's America and Mikhail Gorbachev's Soviet Union. The Holy See now has full diplomatic relations with 176 states. Vietnam, China and Saudi Arabia are among the few without formal links.
Recent years have also seen an expansion in the See's multilateral diplomacy. It sits in on the deliberations of 16 inter-governmental bodies, including the United Nations, the African Union and the Organisation of American States.The Vatican acts, by its own choice, as a “permanent observer” rather than a voting member of the UN; but it is a signatory to some UN human-rights conventions.
It uses these advantage points to lobby for its ideas: non-violence, the extension of international law, support for marriage—and, controversially, the “sanctity of life” from the time of conception, which means opposing contraception, abortion and euthanasia. Articulo