Ambassador Gingrich’s Remarks to a Congressional Delegation Led by the Honorable Frank Pallone

Rome, Italy
July 31, 2019

As Delivered:

Good Evening!

Chairman Pallone, Ranking Member Walden, Father Conroy, distinguished members, and friends, Newt and I are honored to welcome you to Villa Richardson.

Your visit to the Vatican could not come at a more appropriate time.  Today, America’s diplomatic relationship with the Holy See is as strong as ever.  For 35 years this partnership has worked to advance peace, freedom, and human dignity around the world.

As I hope you will see in your meetings this week, U.S. foreign policy objectives can be advanced and achieved through collaboration with the Holy See. 

I’d like to focus on one objective in particular: environmental protection.  Our embassy has worked creatively with the Holy See on issues like energy governance, climate action, water access, and innovation.

We’ve facilitated visits for U.S. officials like Assistant Secretary Fannon, the State Department’s lead for energy resources, as well as for corporate leaders from U.S. companies, to engage on these matters.

Environmental protection is a signature priority for Pope Francis.  His 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’, On Care for our Common Home, has had a profound impact, and is a large part of the reason you are here this week.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve been impressed by the many ways in which the Holy See has promoted the message of Laudato Si’, to care for the environment.  The Vatican has convened numerous meetings on energy governance and climate action; and has facilitated partnerships with the diplomatic community, civil society, and private sector.

There are many areas where we can positively engage with the Holy See on environmental issues.  For example, the Holy See is currently planning the “Economy of Francesco,” an economic summit scheduled to take place in Assisi, Italy, in March of 2020.  This summit will be attended by young economists and entrepreneurs and will seek to implement the Pope’s teachings in Laudato Si’.  Our embassy is working with the Vatican on areas of possible alignment.

Of course, environmental cooperation is only one part of our robust partnership with the Holy See.

Like the United States, the Holy See is engaged on every continent – advancing human rights, defending religious freedom, providing health care, and educating those most in need.

Partnering with the Holy See, the United States interacts with the global network of the Catholic Church – extending to more than 1.3 billion Catholics and millions of non-Catholics as well.  Doing so promotes our common priorities and shared values in every region of the world.

America benefits from the vast reach and soft-power influence of the Holy See.  This is why President Reagan and Saint John Paul II established formal diplomatic relations in 1984.  They understood that together the United States and the Holy See would be a world-wide force for good.

The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See will continue to honor and uphold this great legacy.

Thank you.