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Now Hiring: Vatican ambassador is unique in U.S. diplomatic corps


  • Pope Francis leaves a meeting with ambassadors to the Holy See in 2014 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Callista Gingrich smiles during a hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Capitol Hill July 18 in Washington. If confirmed, she will be the 11th U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. (CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)
  • Pope Francis poses with ambassadors during an audience with the diplomatic corps in 2016 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)
  • Ambassadors to the Holy See attend a meeting with Pope Francis in 2014 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Pope Francis is greeted by 13 new ambassadors to the Holy See as they present their letters of credential at the Vatican Dec. 18. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As the U.S. president's personal envoy to the Vatican, the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See has a unique role in building a bridge between the political center of the United States and the religious-spiritual center of the universal Catholic Church in Rome.

Like every U.S. ambassador, the diplomats it assigns to the Holy See function as a two-way street: They are messengers, representing the U.S. president in all matters and explaining the administration's policies, and they are observers, acting as the eyes and ears of the United States and keeping track of what is unfolding at the Vatican.

President Donald Trump has nominated Callista Gingrich to be his ambassador. The 51-year-old testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations July 18 and was awaiting confirmation as the month drew to a close.

The Holy See is more than just an independent sovereign state: It's also the home of the pope and a font of moral-ethical responses to world affairs coming from the Roman Curia. For that reason, ambassadors here have a unique mission before them.

"What I used to say is that I dealt in moral diplomacy, which is the diplomacy about the human condition and human dignity," Jim Nicholson, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, told Catholic News Service in Washington, D.C.

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