Happy New Year to everyone – I hope you all had a happy and healthy holiday season. My wife and I welcomed our family to Rome over the holidays and we were able to attend the beautiful Christmas Eve midnight mass at St. Peter’s Basilica and the Pope’s Urbi et Orbi Christmas Day address together.
As the New Year begins, our embassy celebrates a very important moment in our relationship with the Holy See. Thirty years ago today, President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II established formal diplomatic relations between the United States and the Holy See. That same day – January 10, 1984 – President Reagan nominated William A. Wilson to be the first U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. When Ambassador Wilson presented his credentials to Pope John Paul II on April 9, 1984, our embassy officially opened.
While we celebrate our 30th anniversary this year, our relationship with the Holy See began much earlier. The United States has engaged with the Vatican at various levels since the very beginning of our republic, and from 1870 to 1984, several U.S. presidents designated personal envoys to visit the Holy See periodically for discussions on international humanitarian and political issues.
From President Wilson, who in 1919 was the first U.S. president to meet a pope, to Pope John Paul II, who in 1979 was the first pope to visit the White House, the United States and the Holy See have been partners in promoting human rights and social justice across the globe. This shared goal is what has made our relationship strong, relevant, and enduring.
I am happy to be a part of this legacy and partnership and hope to strengthen and expand our engagement with the Holy See on a broad range of global issues during my time in Rome.
Throughout the year our embassy will celebrate this anniversary through a number of activities. Follow us on our Facebook and Twitter pages for news about these activities and interesting facts and pictures about the history of U.S.-Vatican relations.
I want to also take a moment to express how saddened all of us here at the embassy are by the news of the passing of former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Thomas Melady. He was a distinguished diplomat and scholar who will be missed by us all. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family during this time.