The Catholic University of America

May 29, 2009

More than 200 Celebrate the Cooperation of Church and State in the U.S.

CUA's Hosts "Faith and Freedom: Church and State in the American Experience"
Speakers at the morning session (from left) Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Thomas P. Melady, R. James Nicholson, R. Nicholas Burns and Mary Ann Glendon.

On May 28, the morning after the White House announced the nomination of Miguel Diaz as the ninth ambassador to the Holy See, a crowd of more than 200 gathered at Catholic University for the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the United States and the Vatican.

Co-sponsored by the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic University, "Faith and Freedom: Church and State in the American Experience," drew an audience filled with scholars and theologians as well as six university presidents, three ambassadors, two Catholic cardinals and a number of other high ranking Church officials.

The symposium's morning session was devoted to the U.S.-Vatican relationship as it has developed since the establishment of full diplomatic relations by President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II in 1984.

Robert P. George delivers the afternoon keynote address.

After welcoming remarks by Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., university president, and Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan delivered a brief history of diplomatic relations between the United States and the Holy See. He spoke from the perspective of a Church historian (having earned a doctorate in Church history from CUA in 1985) and a former staff member at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Keynote speaker Mary Ann Glendon, ambassador to the Holy See from 2008 to 2009, spoke about the commonality between the Vatican and the United States and the role of the Vatican ambassadors.

"The Holy See's sphere of concern, like that of the United States, is worldwide," she said. "They both have a common commitment to relief of poverty, hunger and disease."

The morning panel following Glendon's keynote included R. Nicholas Burns undersecretary of state for political affairs from 2005 to 2008; R. James Nicholson, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See from 2005 to 2007; and Thomas P. Melady, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See from 1989 to 1993. Nicholson and Melady shared reminiscences from their years as ambassador and Burns provided perspective as the nation's highest ranking career diplomat during his years as undersecretary.

Monsignor David J. Malloy, general secretary of the USCCB, delivered introductory remarks for the afternoon session, at which Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program at Princeton University, delivered the keynote. George spoke on the roles of bishops and laity in the Church and "healthy secularism" - ways in which Church and state, although separate entities, can work together to ensure an ethical society.

The afternoon panel (from left) Marcello Pera, Patrick McKinley Brennan and Francis Campbell.

Following George's presentation, an international panel continued the discussion on the philosophical consequences of an official relationship between church and state. The panel included Francis Campbell, ambassador of the United Kingdom to the Holy See; Patrick McKinley Brennan, John F. Scarpa Chair in Catholic Legal Studies at Villanova University School of Law; and Marcello Pera, president of the Senate of the Republic of Italy.

Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington and chancellor of Catholic University, delivered closing remarks at the symposium.

Click here for the welcoming remarks of Father O'Connell and Archbishop Sambi and the talks by Archbishop Dolan and Professor Glendon.

Click here for the panel response to the morning session.

Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl and Father David M. O'Connell talk to panelist Thomas Melady.

Click here for the remarks of Monsignor Malloy and Professor George, the panel following George's talk and closing comments by Archbishop Wuerl.