Ben Franklin, Robert E. Lee, U.S. Navy, Henry Kissinger, and the Vatican

January 3, 2011 — Print this Page

Who knew of such connections? Franklin’s influence in the selection of John Carroll of Baltimore as the first Catholic bishop in early America; the intrigue between Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and U.S. Diplomat Rufus King regarding recognition of the Confederacy; and sure to raise nautical eyebrows at the U.S. Naval Academy, the story of the adoption of the Papal Navy’s Gunnery Manual by the U.S. Navy. Henry Kissinger and others show up too, in Robert F. Illing’s forthcoming book America and the Vatican: Trading Information after World War II.

Fifteen years after World War II, the United States opened a small mission in the Vatican and author Robert Illing, a non-Catholic and career Foreign Service officer, served as the functioning charge d’affaires. He came to understand the dual nature of the Vatican as a city-state political entity apart from its place as center of the Roman Catholic Church, and brings to the reader that insight as he functioned in the dynamic make-up of the American mission that was a curiosity to some and a recognized place of importance to many.

Much was open to Illing, including segments of the Vatican’s Secret Archives relative to the United States, resulting in a fascinating flow of anecdotes concerning, among many others, Franklin, Lee, Kissinger, the U.S. Navy and more. As a non-Catholic, the author was also fascinated by the document shown him, signed off by Pope Clement VII indicating what he was really going to do about Henry the VIII before Henry bolted from the church. Something never included in secondary and college curriculum.

The book brings known things to greater light, as well. The nature of the Vatican’s financial portfolio is explained, its connection with individual governments around the world, and the purpose of the American mission in tuning into the Vatican listening post, which, because of its dual nature is unique in the gathering of information around the world. Robert Illing brings intriguing insight to the reader and offers a clear perspective to American-Vatican relations as well as the Vatican’s relationship with various governments in the world.

America and the Vatican, 9781933909691,Robert F. Illing, History Publishing Company , will be in bookstores nationally during January 2011.


Printed from the History Publishing Company website, visit .

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