America and the Vatican

March 11, 2011 — Print this Page

For Immediate Release

What happens when an American is allowed into the Vatican’s famed secret archives and comes across material about the United States which was virtually unknown outside the archives? He might go home right away and write a book with visions of Dan Brown in his head. But if he is a State Department official like Robert Illing, he files the experience in a dark recess of his mind thinking that one day he should write a book. Forty years later he did write his book, America and the Vatican: Trading Information after World War II, to place in public record, a unique time in American foreign relations.

Illing, a dual resident of San Francisco and Oporto, Portugal, is the lone survivor of the first permanent U.S. mission to the Vatican and is currently a board member of the European Strategy Forum that brings together high ranking EU officials and academics in a form of brain trust. He came to know and understand Vatican “thinking” and is not surprised at Pope Benedict’s condemnation of the deicide, unjustly accorded Jews over the centuries, in his new book about the death of Jesus Christ. “The thinking in the Vatican is very, very slow and deliberate and the writings of the current Pope are really quite similar to the thinking that prevailed when I was there,” he says. “The strength of his words, seemingly a long time in coming, were just a long time in being put on paper. Slowness to deliberation has been a hallmark of the Vatican over the years. But when they occur, they appear to be lasting. ”

Illing came to know Vatican thinking when he set up and ran, with Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, the office that would become a fully staffed embassy. The peripatetic Lodge left Illing acting as charge d’affairs which gave him entry into the splendor, “mysteries” and the personalities of the Vatican. He came to understand its unique position as a listening post and its dual nature as a city-state and the center of the Roman Catholic Church. He put them together in his new book and was able to include some material, never before published, about the connection between the United States and the Vatican in the early days of the American republic. America and the Vatican: Trading Information after World War II 9781933909 691was released on February 15.2011.

Printed from the History Publishing Company website, visit .

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