Monday, July 18, 2005

WANTED: Ambassador

Now I've seen some crazy things in my time, but this takes the cake.

Apparently, the British Government has taken its search for a new ambassador to the Holy See... to The Times of London. Yes, you saw that right, The Times. The want ad reads as follows:
The Holy See has the status of a sovereign state. It plays an important role on international issues of importance to HMG such as Africa, development and the fight against poverty. As Ambassador, you will act on instructions from the UK Government, report on the Holy See’s response, advance HMG’s overseas priorities, and represent the UK at official functions and ceremonial events (including religious ceremonies).
We require a high calibre individual, with proven political and strategic awareness, diplomatic and interpersonal skills, and in-depth knowledge of government. You must be able to deal with complex issues, build effective and lasting relationships, and be able to communicate in Italian and French to a high standard.
In return, we offer a basic salary in the range of £42,640 - £60,405 per annum, supplemented by a fully furnished residence, allowances, and an accountable entertainment budget of up to £6,000 per annum. The position is offered on a three year fixed-term contract, which may be terminated by either party at six months’ notice.
If you have the stature to represent Britain at the highest levels, are a British citizen and have resided in the UK for two years’ or more in the last ten years, then please submit your CV and covering letter, outlining your relevant experience on-line at For further information, or an informal discussion on this post, please call Emma Thomas on 07799 408 210.
Please quote reference B7986.
Closing date: 9th August 2005.
On top of this, it seems the Brits are moving their Holy See mission into their Italian Embassy. This is a BIG NO-NO. The Holy See will not accept a merged embassy, as it is disrespectful to the integrity of the Holy See. A couple former HS ambassadors to the UK mentioned this in The Times the other day:
Pope Benedict XVI shows signs of wanting closer relations with Britain. The Holy See�s agenda is largely centred on global issues of poverty, development and debt relief, coinciding with our own G8 priorities. The Vatican is influential and well informed, a first-class listening post in which all other G8 countries have resident diplomats.

It seems that, contrary to the 1929 Lateran Pacts, the UK representative to the Holy See is now to have an office in the compound of the UK Embassy to Italy, further undermining the status of our diplomatic relations with the Holy See.

The reason is, of course, cost-cutting. Yet the post has always been one of our least expensive. This proposal is cheese-paring in the extreme. Let us at least continue to staff it with a properly supported professional diplomat of sufficient standing to make his or her voice heard in Whitehall.

I'd gladly change my citizenship to have a shot at the job.... Any takers from my Brit audience?



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