Despite the icy cold weather and the occasional blustery shower of rain, approximately two hundred people gathered at Dáil Éireann, in Kildare Street, Dublin, on Thursday afternoon, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. Those present travelled from many parts of Ireland in answer to a call from the Christian Solidarity Party to protest against the closure of Ireland’s Embassy to the Vatican by the coalition Government – ostensibly for economic reasons!
Cardinal Sean Brady at the time of the announcement of the closure, expressed his "profound disappointment"about the move and continued
"This decision seems to show little regard for the important role played by the Holy See in international relations and of the historic ties between the Irish people and the Holy See over many centuries,"
The Irish Embassy to the Holy See was established in 1929, and it was one of the first resident missions to be established by the Irish Government. The Papal Nuncio from the Vatican has always been regarded as the Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps here. Ireland’s diplomatic connection with the Vatican has now been downgraded to that of a senior official of the Department of Foreign Affairs being appointed to deal with Vatican affairs. A physical presence in Rome is no longer in existence.
There has been much criticism of this move, which is seen as a snub to Pope Benedict, and to the Church. Both clerical and secular writers have pointed out that in breaking direct diplomatic links with the Holy See the Irish Government has, as the saying goes, ‘cut off its nose to spite its face’, particularly – from a purely worldly point of view – as the Vatican is such an important ‘listening post’ in diplomatic circles worldwide.