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Foreign Policy Analysis
Between Popes and Presidents:  American Diplomacy to the Holy See

Between Popes and Presidents: American Diplomacy to the Holy See


– Good evening, everyone, and a very warm welcome
to everyone this evening. Beautiful fall evening here in Minnesota. My name is Paul Voida. I am a faculty member in
the Department of Theology. But I am the Director of the Institute for Catholicism and Citizenship, and we are the primary
host of tonight’s event. In a few minutes I will
invite our president, Julie Sullivan, to formally introduce
our speaker this evening. But before I do that, I wanna
say just a very brief bit about the institute and what
it does and where it came from and why it exists. (chuckling) Two years ago, actually,
on this very stage we had our inaugural lecture of the Institute for
Catholicism and Citizenship. We are a new institute here at St. Thomas, and we are dedicated to, in a word, elevating the conversation. Elevating the conversation
around the relationship between the Church, between Catholics and citizenship and the political realm. There’s a lot of heat,
there’s a lot of noise. There’s not enough light. Our task, our mission
is to shed more light than there is heat and to
elevate the conversation around the many many pressing issues that face us as citizens, as Catholics. We do so in the spirit of
the Second Vatican Council, that called on the Church
and its members to engage less in a defensive posture
towards the modern world and more in a open stance of dialog. Critical dialog but dialog nonetheless. Our mission is to elevate
the conversation around critical issues that face us
as citizens, as Catholics, and to do so precisely
as a Catholic university. We here at the University of St. Thomas are in a privileged position
of having at our disposal the richness of the Catholic tradition, which extends back 2,000 years plus, and we seek to bring
those resources to bear in the pursuit of
elevating the conversation around the Church and citizenship. So, we welcome you here tonight to extend the conversation yet further. I would invite you to learn
more about the institute by visiting our website. Go to the St. Thomas homepage, /ICC, and you’ll get, perhaps, more information than you
really want about the institute. Please check us out on
usual social media sites, as well, for upcoming events. With that, what I’d like to do
is invite President Sullivan to come say a word of introduction
to our speaker tonight. And let me say, by the
way, a word of thanks, especially to President Sullivan, who did, really, the groundwork to bring the institute into being. I believe it’s fair to say
that I wouldn’t be here tonight introducing Dr. Sullivan,
wouldn’t be here representing the institute if it
wasn’t for Dr. Sullivan, her efforts to bring
this idea into fruition. So I thank her for her work, her efforts, and her vision of what
St. Thomas is and can be. I’d also like to thank Dr. Bernie Brady, the Chair of the Theology Department. The institute is housed within
the Theology Department. Along with Dr. Brady, I’d
like to thank the Dean of the College of Arts and
Sciences, Dean Yohuru Williams. And a final word of thanks to
the administrative assistants of the Theology Department, Laurie Dimond, who has done enormous amounts of work helping to coordinate this event. If it wasn’t for her,
this probably wouldn’t go off nearly as smoothly as it does. Just one final thing before I turn the mic over to President Sullivan. First, after our speaker’s talk, there is going to be an
extended period of Q&A, so please don’t rush away. There will be a lot of Q&A
around the talk this evening. I would also encourage you to stick around for a small reception
in the lobby afterwards. If you didn’t get a chance,
if you don’t get a chance to ask a question during the Q&A period, you would like to speak to
the ambassador one-on-one in the lobby, I think you’ll
have that opportunity. So, with no further ado, I
would like to introduce to you our President, Dr. Julie Sullivan. (audience applauding) – Thank you, Paul, and thank you for your
leadership of the institute. We’re very grateful. It is my pleasure to join
Paul in welcoming Ken Hackett to our campus this evening to speak to us on the topic, Between
Popes and Presidents: American Diplomacy to the Holy Sea. We could not have asked for more qualified or more illuminating speaker
than Ambassador Hackett, who has served with distinction
in several high-profile positions around the
world during his career. A native of Massachusetts,
Ambassador Hackett graduated from Boston College in 1968. After serving in the Peace Corps in Ghana, he joined Catholic
Relief Services in 1972, and spent the next four
decades with the organization. He was the CRS Regional
Director for Africa from 1978 to 1985, managing the response to the Ethiopian Famine in the mid 1980s, and later in Somalia and Asia. He become President of CRS in 1993, and held that position for 18 years. He then served as a US
ambassador to the Holy Sea from 2013 until earlier this year. Among other positions he has held, North American President
of Caritas Internationalis; the Association of Humanitarian Agencies of the Catholic Church from 1995 to 2004; service on the Pontifical
Council Cor Unum, which coordinates the
Church’s charitable work; membership on the board of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US foreign agency, foreign-aid agency dedicated to fighting global poverty; and membership on former president George W. Bush’s Global
Poverty Task Force. Among his many honors are the
University of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, given to American Catholics for service to the Church and to society; and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of St. Thomas, which we conferred upon him when he spoke at our undergraduate
commencement ceremonies in 2011. The citation that accompanied
the honorary degree that saluted Mr. Hackett for
how he always faced his efforts on the tradition of
Catholic social teaching and the principles of
human dignity and equality, universal rights and responsibilities, promotion of the common
good, and care for the poor. He once said that we must
always remember the following. I quote: “We are one human family, “and we cannot lose sight of this, “no matter how dire the circumstances “or how massive the emergency “or how complicated the project.” We embrace that kind of attitude at the University of St. Thomas and we embrace his belief system. I look forward to hearing
his remarks this evening. Please join me in a warm
welcome for our friend and our honorable Ambassador Ken Hackett. (audience applauding) – Thank you very much, President Julie. We go back a bit, actually, Julie and I. She stoled one of my vice presidents at Catholic Relief Services, and dragged him out to San Diego. But, it was a special theft, and it accomplished some great things. Thank you, Paul. It’s great to be back here and to see some old
friends, like Father Larry. Larry and I worked together when I was at Catholic Relief Services and he was at charities,
and we worked together in Rome at Caritas. We have shared more than one
glass of wine together in Rome, and we consider each other good friends. Lemme start by saying that in a 1990 book Joseph Nye of Harvard’s
John F. Kennedy School coined the term, soft power. He elaborated further on this
concept in his 2004 book, Soft Power: A Means to
Success in World Politics. The Holy Sea has a centuries-old
engagement around the globe and has developed processes
and procedures and programs to deal with the realities
of world politics. It exerts its influence these
days with neither armies nor economic power; it exerts soft power. As Joseph Nye writes,
quote: “When one country “gets other countries
to want what it wants, “it might be called
cooptive, or soft power. “In contrast, hard, or commanding power “of ordering others to do what it wants.” That’s how the Holy Sea
plays out on the world stage. Now enter Pope Francis. He entered the world stage, really, as most people know him, in March of 2013. He was voted in on the
conclave in the Vatican. His engagement and his
approach to international geopolitical world has been shaped by, I would say, his own
biographical and cultural roots, and his life and his training as a Jesuit, and his work as a pastor in
a big city, Buenos Aires. What I hope to do this evening
is to share my perspective on the diplomacy of Pope
Francis and the diplomacy and international
engagement of the Holy Sea and to give you a few
examples of where we, and I still say we, though I’m retired from the US government, we in the US government and the
Holy Sea found common cause. As Ambassador to the Holy Sea, there’re a few required functions. Ya have to do these because if you don’t, you’re not really doing your job. Ambassadors don’t regularly
meet with the pope. It’s not that we didn’t
meet with the pope, but it’s not one of those
deals where he says: “Come on over and watch
the game and have a beer.” That’s not what you do. You meet with the people
who advice the holy father. The main task is trying to figure him out. Understanding Pope Francis
meant a detailed reading of who he was, what were
his early experiences that may have shaped his
actions or his inactions, what has he said or done that would signal kind of a direction tilt
in where he’s going. Second, you try to anticipate
what directions he will take. And your job as ambassador
is to inform Washington and other embassies around the world when he’s about to engage
on a specific issue or a particular matter. Third, and importantly, obviously, you try to influence his actions and the actions of the
Holy Sea more generally. Well, coming to my position
as ambassador to the Holy Sea in the summer of 2013, thank you, Paul, and coming as a former American ex CEO of a large Catholic organization, the obvious first question you ask is: “What’s his strategic vision?” That’s a real business-school
kind of approach that any CEO brings, and it’s expected that in that classical
business-school mentality the chief executive will have a clearly-thought-out strategic vision. I found that his was
clear and thought-out. It was simply: follow the Gospel. That may sound a little
bit simplistic or trite for somebody who is the head of a church with two billion followers,
but that’s what I concluded and other people concluded, as well. The next thing you ask,
as the new ambassador trying to figure out the new
pontiff, head of state, pope, is: what are his specific plans? Indeed, I found he had many
specific plans as he took over, and they were shaped by his Gospel vision. He had plans about running the Church, the management of the Church,
the planet as our home, the role of bishops and hierarchies, the accountability and management
of money in the church, the terrible scourge of sexual abuse by clergy and others in the church, the role of women, where
the church put its focus. He wanted it to move to the peripheries. He wanted it to be a
poor church for the poor, and he wanted a church that was merciful. Finally, my staff and I
continually tried to find areas of mutual or potential agreement
or benign coordination. Finally, where we had no agreement at all, but at least we understood
each other’s position. That’s the job that the
ambassador carries out. The holy father manifests his positions in a number of different ways. First is his teaching
role, through his homilies, his remarks at Wednesday audiences. Some of you who have, maybe,
spent a little time in Rome have gone to a Wednesday audience. It’s something very special. He defines what are his
priorities and positions. He also uses public statements. He now has a Twitter account
with 36 million followers. I just read yesterday that our President has more followers than
he does, 40 million. But the critique was, most of President Trump’s
followers are bots. I dunno. What do I know? Obviously, he telegraphs his
positions about where he visits and who he meets with and what he says, and also who opposes him. He convenes meetings on various topics and allows his curial staff to do so. The fact that he chose to convene the first synod on the family was major. Was not really a
foreign-policy issue, at all. But what he did, for the first time ever, was allowed African, Asian,
and non-European clergy to have a big say in what
went on in those two synods. Of course, popes show
their agenda profoundly in the encyclicals they write. That’s mostly what the general public sees in the letters that they write. All of these are ways that popes convey their vision for all of mankind, and it is a vision for all of mankind as well as the Catholic Church. It has to be understood
and hopefully appreciated first by his immediate team,
they gotta get the message, and then carried forward
by the bishops and priests and people within the church. I read two recent articles by Jesuits, and that’s not just because I went to Boston College High
School and Boston College. These were thought-provoking articles. One was by Antonio Spadaro, and the other by Jose Louis Narovaja. They were speaking of the international relations approach of Pope Francis. I also found another history
of Vatican diplomacy. For those historians who are here, this is Leo Francis Stock’s work of 1955, published by the American
Catholic Historical Society. It’s a history of US relations
with the papal states which traces itself back to 1748. That relationship was mostly commercial, US and the papal states. It was more substantive 100
years later, in 1848, where, actually, things went beyond
just commercial relations. I had in my embassy on the
wall a facsimile of a letter from Abraham Lincoln to Pius
IX, saying, this was in 1861, asking if he could appoint an envoy, Rufus King, to the Vatican. 1861, that was before the Civil War. Then, there was also a
picture in one of the rooms in my office of the USS
Constitution, Old Ironsides, which is moored in
Boston Harbor these days. The USS Constitution, in 1849, was docked in Gaita Harbor,
just north of Naples. Pope Pius the IX was
invited by the captain to come onboard, which he did. That was the first time the pope ever stepped foot on US territory. A US ship is US territory. The story goes that the
captain was fired by his boss because the boss had sent a message: “Don’t bring the pope onboard.” But, anyway, I dunno, I dunno. So, we have a long history
of dealing with the Holy Sea, even though formal relations
with a real ambassador appointed were only opened in 1984 under the administration of Ronald Reagan. But lemme return a little bit
to the international relations and the diplomacy of
the Francis Pontificate. Antonia Spadaro, the Jesuit editor of the important monthly Civilta
Cattolica, writes, quote: “By rejecting rigid
interpretive mechanisms “and by showing a commitment
for the common good “Pope Francis has put mercy at
the center of his diplomacy.” End quote. Spadaro outlines five
traits of Francis’ action on the international stage. He says: “First, Francis practices “360-degree dialog with world leaders. “He does not exclude a world
leader with whom he disagrees.” I saw that very vividly with
people like Joseph Kabila, the President of Congo. He didn’t agree, pope didn’t
agree with Kabila, at all. And many other leaders like that. The pope endeavors to remain open to all, and he doesn’t engage coalitions
that often close doors. His hope would be to keep doors open and attempt to build bridges. Second, mercy leads an
agenda’s reconciliation. The concept of a holy war with Islam or some other group just
doesn’t fit his approach. He doesn’t even think that way. Third, Spadaro writes, “He
believes that mercy compels us “to witness the open wounds”, and compels, the pope believes this, that it compels him to
witness the open wounds. Seeing and touching
have a therapeutic value for Pope Francis. How does that play out? When he visits Lampedusa in the first four months
of his pontificate, when he goes to Yad Vashem,
when he goes to Korea and South Sri Lanka,
and Banggi and Armenia, or when he visits the US Congress,
which was hostile to him. He wants to be where the turmoil is, and he wants to show mercy. Fourth, Spadaro writes that Francis knows that peace does not exist in nature but must be pursued nonetheless. He sees his role as acting on behalf of the weakest and the most vulnerable. Fifth, he does not believe in shoring up the theologies of power that
can be used to fight enemies. We see that everyday, where
people get these little cabals of “This is my opinion
and I’m gonna stick to it, “and everybody else is wrong.” He doesn’t see it that way. He doesn’t see religion as a dominant class guarantee of power. Rather, the opposite. He sees Christianity as being
in service to the world. Jose Luis Navarro, writing
in the same Civilta Cattolica in the September issue,
and you should read it. You probably have it in
the library somewhere. He identifies four aspects
of Pope Francis’ engagement in the international arena. First he says, he being a theologian, that the pope speaks of
the curvomatic nature of his politics. After I looked that up on Google, I realized they’re Gospel-based. Secondly, he said that
Pope Francis’ engagement in international politics
is not window dressing but inclusive and substantive. Here he alludes to the four
principles that Pope Francis identified in his
encyclical Evangelii Gaudium for bringing about
principles for bringing about the common good in a peaceful society. They were, first, time
is greater than space. Ideas need time to unfold. Second, unity prevails over conflict. Third, realities are more
important than ideas. Last, the whole is greater than the parts. “Thirdly”, Navarro says, “discernment involves time and processes.” Some of you may know that discernment is a critical part of
the Jesuit upbringing. Finally, charity, love, is a manifestation of a
higher form of politics. That’s kinda profound. I must admit that I
read this guy’s article at least three times, and I can’t claim to
understand it completely. But since he happens to
be the pope’s nephew, I figure he’s got some kind of
special insight into things, so I take it as important. Let’s look at how those
principles play out in reality. First, I wanna describe a bit about how the pope turns his
vision into reality. I mentioned about the different ways he communicates his vision and plans. Structurally, the secretariat
of state is the office, what they call the curial office, responsible for relations among states and the general running of the Church. The person secretary of state,
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, functions, basically, more like a prime minister than a foreign minister. Under Cardinal Parolin
there are two archbishops, two individuals who
basically run the show. The substituto, that’s
Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, he cares for the internal
matters of the church, the appointment of bishops, problems, opportunities, and things like that. The second is Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the secretary for relations with states. He’s basically the foreign minister. He deals with exactly
that: relations with states and relations with international bodies. Those three individuals,
the secretary of state and his two deputies, meet
almost every day with the pope. Almost every day. Sometimes multiple times
a day, on various issues. Other heads of what
are called dicasteries, or offices, have to ask for
a meeting with the pope. The pope’s secretary will schedule them. “We think we can get you in
a week and a half from now”, or something like that. Those three guys deal
with the pope regularly, and it’s they who carry
out the pope’s vision in a very very direct way. Let’s take a few examples
of where the pope and the president, President
Obama, found common cause. I’ll talk about climate change; I’ll talk about Cuba, China, and migrants. So, on the first, climate change, I actually never figured
out what the genesis of this big climate letter
that Pope Francis released, Laudato Si’, was. I knew that Cardinal Turkson, you may hear that name around, I hope you get him here
as a speaker sometime, actually was running the
Office of Justice and Peace, and he was dealing with
some of these things. But other popes before
Francis had also dealt with issues of ecology
and the environment. It was well known that
when Archbishop Bergoglio was voted to become the pope,
he chose the name Francis. So, me being a Jesuit product, said: “Oh, he must be following Francis Xavier.” Uh uh. It was Francis of Assisi. And the environment was important. So, the pope was oriented
towards this issue. I have to believe that
the idea of an encyclical may have come up in the first meeting that Cardinal Turkson had with the pope. Cardinal Turkson, as head of the Pontifical Council
of Justice and Peace, was really wrestling, and I
know this from my own meetings with him in 2012, 2011, he was wrestling with what he should focus
on in his dicastery. It’s not without reason
that he probably raised the issue of ecology, as I said, in his first meeting with Pope Francis. Because he was getting
in treaties from oil and mining companies who wanted to know how they could get support
from the Catholic Church for what they were doing around the world. He was also getting in treaties
from environmental groups who wanted to see something
substantive happen. Lastly, he was getting in treaties from groups that didn’t
agree with climate change. So, with all that kind of
conflict and dialectic going on, he probably raised the
issue with the pope. A letter would do the job. Secondly, there was
another important item. In November of 2015, there was to be the Paris
Climate Change Meeting, a very important meeting. That date figured significantly
on the papal calendar. They wanted to make a difference. They wanted to have it as a marker, and they wanted to hit that marker. The process of drafting the
actual document began in 2013, and evolved throughout ’14. By 2015, the encyclical
Laudato Si’ was hatched. January 2015, that’s when
the world began to know that the Vatican is going
to put out an encyclical on the environment, on
ecology, on climate. All of a sudden, there was a wakeup. I had, as ambassador, a
rush of people coming in to try to tell the Vatican what they should put in the encyclical. Because finally they realized: “Uh oh, “this is gonna have some gravitas.” In fact, early in 2015,
there’s a road that goes, you see it in pictures, it leads directly into St. Peter’s Square. It’s called Via Conciliazione. You march down it. People stand on it during
the mass on Sunday. It’s a main road. There’s a bunch of hotels on it. I recall once time, one of the
anti-climate-change groups, whose name I will not mention, held a big rally on Conciliazione, throwing around a lotta money, at the very same time
that inside Vatican City there was a meeting at the
Pontifical Academy of Sciences on climate change. They wanted to see if
they could influence it, to stop the Vatican from producing a letter on climate change. Just as an aside, one of
the most interesting visits I had in conjunction with the
drafting of the encyclical was from the EPA
Administrator, Gina McCarthy. First, it was nice having a visit from somebody from my hometown. She really spoke in proper Bostonese. Second, the tour that the
Vatican put on for her. She’s the EPA Administrator. Some of you may know who
the administrator is now and what he’s doing. First of all, the Vatican took us down to look at their boilers. I mean, this is really checking
out the bottom of the thing. What they wanted to show
us is that there were these giant boilers, almost as big as this section of the room, that were 150 years old. Next to them, there were boilers about two times the side of the podium. To show that the new boilers
were so much more efficient than the old boilers, and they were making and taking steps to increase
their energy efficiency. Next, they took us to
overlook the solar panels on the top of Paul VI meeting hall. Lots of ’em. Lots of ’em. Then, finally, they took
us up to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, where
they had just installed new energy-efficient air
conditioning, air cleaning, and a new lighting system,
which were all more efficient. The Vatican was wanting to
show the EPA administrator, “We’re making personal progress here.” Later, when Gina met
with Cardinal Turkson, she came away with a clear sense that between the Holy Sea and
the Obama Administration they were on the exact same page for the climate meeting in Paris. Laudato Si’ was released. It really carried a big
influence on the world stage. To those people who were hesitant and who were looking for support. That’s where the pope used his stature. Lemme go to Cuba. Again, I don’t know the exact construction or genesis of the Cuba deal. From the Obama
Administration’s point of view, during the campaign, during
the first campaign, 2007, 2008, President Obama, or candidate
Obama had said something to the effect that “The
Cuban Embargo has been around “since I was in high school, “and it’s not getting us anyplace. “We gotta find a way to change it.” So, the Obama Administration
was oriented towards a change. So, then you can imagine Pope Francis, who had visited Cuba on
a number of occasions and actually had written a
piece about the church in Cuba, comes to office, and as a new pontiff, he convenes his senior staff, basically, to outline his priorities. This is what I’m imagining;
I don’t know this for sure. It just so happens that two
of the senior individuals and the secretary of
state, another Cardinal who he was soon to place as the
Head of the Office of Clergy, the cardinal head of the
Latin-American section, and at least four cardinals in
his advisory council of nine, had a lot of experience in Cuba. So, when the new pope, the
new chief executive officer outlines his strategies,
you know, sometimes, everybody’s sitting in the
room, and he says something, and everybody looks down at their shoes. ‘Cause they don’t wanna go
along with this new idea. Very normal in a corporate or any other organizational setting. But now he outlines a strategy. He says: “I would like to do something “about US-Cuba relations.” I can only imagine, there
must’ve been some fist-pumps and “Yeah, let’s go for it!” It met with tremendous applaud. Mercy leads an agenda’s reconciliation. Cuba is a practical example
of that observation. Then when President Obama
came in March, 2014, the meeting between
President Obama and the Pope lasted for just about an hour. It was the longest
meeting Pope Francis had with any head of state. I have to believe, and the White House just
wouldn’t plain tell me, that most of that meeting was where there they hatched the plan
for what they’re going to do, between the Vatican’s role, US’s role, and Cuba’s role, in some
kind of reconciliation. The pope didn’t agree
with Castro’s policies, nor did he agree with the
longstanding US position, but he took that
360-degree-dialog approach. He’d talked to everybody,
if it meant reconciliation. Third, as Navarro writes
of Francis’ perspective, “Unity prevails over conflict. “Realities are more important than ideas. “The US and Cuba were both stuck “by each other’s ideological positions. “The role of the Vatican
was to insert reality “between the two ideologies.” Things recently have
gone through a setback; nonetheless, the significance
of the Vatican’s involvement and future detente between US and Cuba is a potential reality. Another example I’d like to
offer of the Pope’s diplomacy or Vatican’s engagement on the
international scene is China. The Vatican has been
in a virtual stalemate with China for 70 years. There’re many issues of
disagreement and discord. But Pope Francis said
early on in his pontificate that he wanted to visit. He hoped that there
could be some improvement in relationship between
the Holy Sea and China. Then, looking for that
opportunity, in March of 2014, two friends of his from
Argentina stopped at the Vatican to meet with him on their way to China. What’s he do? He decides to write a note, handwritten note to President Xi Jinping, congratulating him on his election, and expressing the pope’s
hope for better relations. Pope then reiterated his
desire for better relations when he met with the Asian
bishops in August of that year. Now, some dialog between
the Vatican and China have been going on for years, but wasn’t really getting anywhere. I can only say that in 2016 I
saw openings slowly happening. The Chinese sent the first
high-level delegation to a meeting in the
Vatican, first in 70 years. Little by little, things were moving. As Spadaro recounts, peace
does not exist in nature, but it’s gotta be pursued,
and Francis pursues peace. He pursues not only peace but human rights and religious freedoms
and so many other issues. While the pope may want to open relation with the Chinese government,
there’s no conflict in that effort with US
policy towards China. US also wants freedoms of
religious practice and expression. The pope really understands
his stature on the world stage, now four years into his pontificate. He knows that what he says
influences situations and people. Lemme finally go to the issue of migrants. The Obama Administration
sought to increase the number of immigrant
emissions in the second term from 70,000 to 100,000. But, President Obama’s
concern was totally outmatched by Pope Francis’ concern. Possibly the most persistent
agenda on his world stage has been his concern for migrants. This appears to come
directly from his heart, his desire to show and
manifest God’s mercy to the most marginalized. He believes that those
people on those boats coming across the Mediterranean
are the most marginalized, and he feels they should be helped. His desire to show and manifest
God’s mercy is incredible. His early visit to Lampedusa
that I mentioned earlier, his visit to Lesbos in Greece,
his call for all parishes to take in refugees, his
example of personally bringing 12 families with him
from Lesbos back to Rome, and putting one family in my parish; another family in the
parish inside Vatican City, right near Santa Ana
Gate, is reflective of he’s ready to put action
behind his concern. He manifests mercy. He moves to the peripheries. He sees that charity is a
higher form of politics, and he shows Christianity as
those in service to the world, sometimes walking an uncomfortable walk. That uncomfortable walk can be in Europe or it can be in our own
country, but the walk he does. He does the talk and he does the walk. As ambassador from the US to the Holy Sea, I was privileged to watch all
of that engagement unfold. With the visit of President
Obama and two visits of Vice President Biden, three
visits of Secretary Kerry, and multiple others
from the administration, I left relations between the Holy Sea and the Obama Administration
as fruitful and active. And, hopefully, my successor will be able to continue those strong relations between the US government
and the Holy Sea. Thank you, Thomies, for
having me back here again. Thank you for listening
and not falling asleep. And I look forward to your questions. Thank you very much. (audience applauding) Paul, how shall we do this? – [Paul] Well, please raise
your hand and speak loudly. (mumbling) bring a microphone forward; in the meantime, go ahead. – [Attendee] My question has
to do with nuclear weapons. The Obama Administration,
maybe, a year ago now, announced a massive
expansion and modernizing of our three-fold nuclear deterrent, to the tune of, I believe,
130 billion dollars. I forget what the pricetag was. I can imagine, myself, all
kinds of objections to this. What is the Vatican’s response to this, and was one ever made public,
or is it not appropriate? What is your perception
from the perspective that you enjoyed as our ambassador? – I dealt with nuclear
nonproliferation issues. I claim no specific expertise. I always brought somebody who
knew much more than myself. And I brought one woman scientist in to explain to the Vatican
what this modernization was. You’re about my age, so
you can understand this. She said: “We still have vacuum tubes “in some of the computers
that run our missiles.” Vacuum tubes. Those are those lightbulb things that were in the old televisions. We haven’t changed them. There might be a good reason; you can’t hack those computers, I dunno. She said: “We have to modernize. “We’re gonna have fewer, but they’re going to be more functional, “until everybody draws down
their nuclear arsenals.” Secondly, more recently,
like within the last month, there have been some
statements made by the Vatican at the United Nations, calling
for a more aggressive posture to nuclear nonproliferation
and denuclearization. The Vatican doesn’t want to make, from what I understood from them, the blatant statement: “Nobody
should have nuclear weapons”, because then Pakistan, North
Korea, China will have them, and US will get rid of them,
and Russia will hide them. They know that. So, it’s gotta be done in a
sensible logical determined way, but I believe it will be done. Now, that’s a lotta hope on
my part because I’m not sure, under this administration,
anything’s gonna change. Yes, sir. – [Attendee] Thank you. With the term of President
Obama’s Administration, thank you so much, and their desire to build
a little more dialog and substantive relations
between Palestine and Israel during his terms, as there
were some real flare-up difficulties between those
two states in that region. Also, Pope Francis’
visit to Yad Vashem shows a concern about that reason, as well. Is there any way that the
Vatican or the US and Vatican kinda had a hand in being able to foster some sort of attempts at
building a relationship between those two states
during that period? – I can say that one of the
primary agendas of John Kerry, as Secretary of State, was to bring about a peaceful solution, a
peaceful two-state solution. He was not able to accomplish it. The Vatican supported him fully. As I said, he came and
visited in the Vatican at least three times, and
in each one of those times part of the lengthy conversation he had in the Secretary of State was about the Israel-Palestine question. Where it stands today,
I am not very hopeful. There’s no pullback on the settlements. Doesn’t seem to be any agreement from the Netanyahu government. There is a glimmer of hope in this new individual who’s dealing with Hamas. But, I would lay no money
that we’re going to see in the next three years
any improvement there. The Vatican would like to see
it because they pursue peace, and they would pursue any
opportunity there, as well. – [Attendee] Thank you. – [Attendee] If the current
administration would’ve asked you to be ambassador for this term, would you have accepted that? – No. I could not defend some of these policies. Some I could, but. You’re expected, as ambassador,
to defend the policies of the president, and some I couldn’t. I think anybody is going
to have a problem defending why we’re pulling out of
the climate agreement, why we may be pulling back
on the Iran agreement. The migration questions and
how they’re being handled. I couldn’t do it. I don’t have that ability. – [Attendee] Did you ever
experience any tensions between your loyalty as a Catholic and your responsibility as US ambassador? – No. I would give you a general answer, no. We were not required and were not engaged in the domestic contentious
issues on healthcare, abortion, birth control, things like that. That just wasn’t in my portfolio. My portfolio was foreign policy. So, on the foreign-policy
side, there were tensions. Certainly, the Holy Sea wanted to know very early in the game what
our objectives were in Syria. And there were tense times when I couldn’t explain fully what they were, so I brought in a general
to explain what they were. There were other tensions that we had, but not because of my Catholic faith. We ran into roadblocks on agreements that we were trying to
enter into with the Vatican on taxation, but that had nothing to do with my faith as a Catholic. – A question I’d like to ask. I have my class here, and we’ve
been studying Pope Francis, and we’ve been reading from Laudato Si’. You mentioned early in
your lecture that you had to really try to understand
where he was coming from and how his early
experiences influenced him. Could you share some of your
insights on that with us? – First of all, he was a
39-year-old Jesuit Provincial, the guy was in charge of the Jesuits, in Argentina during the Dirty War. If you don’t know what the
Dirty War is, go and Google it. It was pretty bad. Thousands and thousands of
people were disappeared. He, as the Provincial of the Jesuits, had young Jesuits working in the barrio with the people who
were being disappeared, and there was conflict, because within the community
some of the older Jesuits said: “You should be supporting
the government more “and not these Communists.” So, he had to struggle with that. At the end of his
six-year term, basically, he was asked: “Go to
Germany; get outta the way.” So he was exiled for a while. When he came back to Argentina, he was sent to a place called Cordoba, which is out there, and he was to spend the rest of his life as a
parish priest out there. That’s one element. The second element is
when he eventually became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, with that background of
knowing who the bad guys were, he had to deal with them. As a big-city archbishop,
you’ve got all kinds of scoundrels coming around
you with money deals. “Oh, your excellency,
I have a deal for you. “Just a million dollars. “I will deposit a half a million
in your bank on Thursday, “and then we’ll see about the rest.” There were all kinds of deals. I found that Francis’ default
was: stay away from the money, because of those kinds of experiences. He also knew who was pulling
the wool over his eyes. Those were two elements. Thirdly, I think his
experience in Latin America as one of the documents that is defining of his kind of strategic vision and plan is from the meeting in Aparecida, in 2007. If you read that big thick document, you say: “That’s what Francis is doing.” It’s amazing. Then, lastly, he was treated
pretty badly, at times, by various high-level
people in the Vatican. That shaped, in some ways,
his view of the curio and also of clericalism
and the role of bishops. They stepped on him at certain
times when he was archbishop. They wouldn’t let him do things. He’s saying: “They don’t know anything! “And here I am, having to
deal with the reality.” All that has shaped a
little bit about who he is and how he acts and how he doesn’t act. A good book, if you want to
read it, there’s two good books; one is by Elizabeth PK,
who knew him personally in Argentina for a long time. She’s the spouse of Jerry O’Connell, who writes for America Magazine. She’s an Argentinian. That’s pretty good. And then the second one
is by Austen Ivereigh, The Francis Revolution, which goes into a lot of detail about his background. There’re many others that
get little pieces of it. I found, unless I understood
a little bit about who he was, I couldn’t figure out
who he was going to be. – We’ve seen some of his priorities, obviously, for the last several years. Looking forward, where do you
see the pope’s priorities, let’s see, the next two, three years? – The whole, I guess I call it a concept, but it’s not really a… The thought of mercy permeates everything. And I’ll give you an example of how I think he thinks about it. He holds the first synod on the family, a very contentious synod. It dealt with annulments,
divorce, polygamy, all kinds of rough issues about family. He gets a lotta pushback
from various communities of bishops around the
world and other people. He holds the second synod, part
of the synod on the family, in 2015, and concludes
it about early December. Just about the time of
concluding the synod, he announces the Year of Mercy for 2016. He hasn’t even released the
final product on the synod yet, which he knows is gonna be controversial. It’s all about mercy. And so, he has the Year
of Mercy at the time he releases the synodal
report that calls for mercy. Think the guy’s thinking. I think that’s one element,
and that will pervade. The migrant issue, as I said,
he’s not gonna give up on. There was some talk before
I left that he may release and encyclical on economics. And there have been
many others, of course. But this would have his own stamp on it and where he would take it. When he released the Evangelii
Gaudium and Laudato Si’, there was controversy
that he’s too Socialist, that he’s too Latin,
all those kinda things. Which, when I reread
those encyclicals I said: “No. “Other popes have said
the exact same thing.” So he could put something
out on the economy. He’s pushing on the clericalism issue. That just bothers him. And so, he wants to see
dust on the sandals, and he wants you coming back as a priest, smelling like the sheep. Then he’s going to continue
to appoint cardinals who are out there, not
necessarily in Europe, but he’ll appoint some,
but from other places. When his last appointment
was a cardinal from Tonga, from Myanmar, from Banggi, that’s the periphery, in his term. So, I think we’re gonna continue
to see that kind of change. – Yes, hi, Mr. Ambassador. I again wanna thank you for
coming here again tonight. I have just two questions; my
first is, what do you consider your greatest accomplishment
at the Holy Sea? Second, what is something you wish you could’ve seen more to
fruition in your time there? – Those are two great questions that you always get in a job interview. (audience laughing) For me, the greatest
accomplishment, really, was getting Pope Francis
to the United States. Because it was not a slam dunk. He had never been to the
United States before. His English was imperfect. We had seen him make
some flubs with verbiage on various things, such
as position of women, things like that. So we were worried that if
he did come to United States, he was gonna come, and he
was gonna make a mistake, and that was going to flavor
the rest of the visit, and it would really be a disaster. It wasn’t a disaster; in fact,
it was a tremendous success. What would I like to have happened? We tried very hard to get various offices, curial offices,
dicasteries, in the Vatican to actually talk to each other. They don’t. They really don’t. When you talk in management
terms about silos in an office or an organization, that is the ultimate. Just to give you an example,
I think I mentioned it with the CRS crowd this afternoon. When I first got there, the embassy had long been engaged in the issue of trafficking of people. And so we convened at my
residence within the first month all of the people we could
find among the Vatican offices and the religious communities
to come over for lunch, all the people who were
dealing with trafficking. Most of them had never
said a word to the other, and they were both dealing
exactly with the same issue. That changed the environment a little bit, so that four years later
there were many more meetings on human trafficking and
many more of these people all related to each other,
and that was a positive, and I would hope we could’ve done it on other issues, as well. – [Attendee] Ambassador Hackett. Over here. – Yes. – [Attendee] I saw little news
item in the past week or two about after an audience with Pope Francis, Saudi Arabia legalized driving for women, and I don’t know if
there’s any correlation. The media wanted to suggest a correlation between a meeting with Pope Francis and the head of the Saudi State and that legalization of driving. That aside, how do you see this pope’s relationship
with Islamic leaders? – To the first point, the
pope would never get involved in an issue like that,
just wouldn’t happen, neither would his staff,
they just wouldn’t. The new Saudi leader, BIN, something like that, I
forget his initials they use, he’s changing things very rapidly, and it’s causing a real
pushback among some of the old hardliners and the Islamic
courts and things like that. Pope Francis, when I
talked about 360 dialog, I referenced it in terms of world leaders, but it’s the same in terms
of religious leaders. He is always meeting with
different religious leaders: Islamic, the Grand Imam of Al-Aqsa in
Egypt has been at least twice. He’s had Iranian delegations in. He’s had Omani, Iraqi delegations. He does have an issue, and
that is that Saudi Arabia and some of the emirates open
up churches for Christians and treatment of Christians who are there. It’s not all love and peace, but he’s willing to dialog about it and he’s aggressive in
reaching out to dialog. But he’s doing the same
thing with Jewish groups, with, he went up to Sweden on the 700th anniversary of Martin Luther. I dunno why he went to Sweden. Martin Luther didn’t
hit the wall in Sweden, but anyway, he went to Sweden. But he’s always doing that. He’s always reaching out. Back to the Israel-Palestine thing, he invited Abbas and Peres to come, this was spur-of-the-moment,
to come to Rome, and have a, not a peace
celebration but a prayer kind of peace, and they
planted a tree together. Lotta symbolism in it. Drove his staff nuts ’cause he did it on the spur of the moment. But, anyway. So he’s always reaching out. – Thank you, this is
extremely interesting, to see this in a kitchen,
if you will, of the Vatican. The question has to do also
with the ecumenical relations of the Vatican, and
specifically touching on Cuba and the meeting in early 2016 between the Russian patriarch and the Vatican. What was the reaction of,
perhaps, of your office and in general of the
American government to this? Because of how fast this was arranged. And also, more importantly,
what was post-meeting with the Russian Orthodox patriarchal, what was the assessment
of what has just happened and implications of that? – So, it has been obvious
to many that the pope would like, as previous popes have done, to create a closer
relationship within orthodoxy, and then between orthodoxy
and the Catholic Church. The meeting with Patriarch
Kirill did happen very quickly, and not everybody who should’ve known that it was going to happen knew in time. It was hatched by Cardinal Koch, who’s in charge of that relationship. And, somehow, the Secretary
of State didn’t know until about two days
before it was gonna happen. It was a real flub. The translator, who I know
very well, from the Vatican, said it was just a crazy show. The pope was trying to create
a sense of religious dialog. Patriarch Kirill was talking
about geopolitical dialog. They were just going
right past each other. Having said that, that
didn’t stop the pope. Cardinal Parolin, the Secretary of State, went up to Moscow about three weeks ago, and met with Patriarch Kirill, Putin. Again, it’s an attempt
to, where can we agree. Kirill is very threatened because he sees in Ukraine he’s
losing a portion of his flock. You have Patriarch Bartholomew
down in Constantinople. He’s up with the pope
at least once a month on some issue of climate
or something like that. There’s Kirill, trying
to protect his territory. So, I dunno whether there’ll
be any progress made. Around Patriarch Kirill
there are some individuals who are definitely against improving relationship with the Church. I would say Archbishop
Hilarion is one of them. He’s a former minister. There’re many others. I think it’s kinda like the China thing. It’s little steps, and you
create a sense of goodwill and trust, and then you
take another step forward. It doesn’t happen with a big deal that’s gonna happen overnight. That’s my take on it. The US? I can tell you that when the
American Ambassador in Moscow learned about it, (chuckling)
he kinda came flying down on what they call the high side, which is the confidential
computer channel, saying: “What’s going on? “Did you know about this?”,
blaming me and everything. But, we got over it quickly. Everybody kind of, after a few
days, saw it for what it was. Kirill needed the photo op; the pope wanted better relations, but it just didn’t happen. – I’m wondering if you
can talk a little bit about the process of what
it was like to be appointed as an ambassador, and maybe,
a little bit more generally about how the US goes about
choosing representatives to an entity like the Holy Sea? – I can tell you about my case. How this administration goes
about choosing representatives to the Holy Sea, I really don’t
know; I’m ignorant about it. So, what happened is that I
retired on February of 2012. Had a big retirement party. Had everybody there from the
office, standing room only. And, as I was giving my final speech, I saw two guys come in
in the back of the room. I’m squinting, ’cause the
glasses aren’t working great, and I see: “Oh, I know him. “He’s the Chief of Staff
in the White House, “and that’s his brother, who’s a priest.” (audience laughing) Anybody from Minneapolis,
Saint Paul here? (laughing) So, afterwards we’re
having a glass of wine and things like that,
and Dennis says to me: “Ken, can I talk to you?” So he pulls me aside, and he said: “Would you consider being the
Ambassador to the Vatican?” I didn’t even have to ask my wife. I said: “Yeah, that’d be great.” So, that was February,
2012, under Benedict. I thought: “That’ll be something
nice to do in retirement. “What the heck, fun.” And then it went dead;
we didn’t hear anything. So, we did the retirement thing: we went to the Grand Canyon,
we visited friends in Arizona, we came out for a
commencement in San Francisco, and went to Notre Dame
to get the Laetare Award. Lotta lotta lotta. Back to Baltimore, in retirement, and I had to go in for a heart
operation in January of 2013. I come out of the hospital. And you don’t move very well
after a heart operation. Gotta get up, and then send
the nurse over to help you, and you’re really incapacitated. And three days after the
hospital, my wife takes a call, and she says: “It’s from the White House”, and it was Dennis again. He said: “Ken, you remember
that conversation we had? “Would ya still like to go?” (chuckling) So I got better quick. (chuckling) So, it was simple. The White House was looking for somebody who would work with US bishops, who had their trust, who
understood international issues, and could defend most
of the foreign policies of the administration. Not that many people. There were a lotta people
who gave a lotta money. I didn’t give any money. If you give money,
sometimes you get the job. I didn’t have any money to give. So that’s how it all went. You go searching for
somebody who the bishops in the United States trust, who has run something of fair size, who understands foreign policy, and can work with the
administration’s policies. Simple. What was the other question? Did you have a second? Oh. That’s how. There were basically two
types of ambassadors. There are career ambassadors. You come up through the State Department, and eventually, you hope
that you are made ambassador. And then there’re political ambassadors, and that is broken down
to two types, three types. There are bundlers. You know what a bundler is? Bundler is somebody who
gets all their friends to put their money together,
and then makes a contribution. Then there’re just plain rich people who wanna buy their way in,
and sometimes they get in. And then there’re fewer
people kinda like myself, who have special skills
that they wanna tap in. So, that’s how it works. – So you mentioned early on
Francis’ strategic vision and the desire to clean up finances and address clericalism, so forth. What’s your take on how effective
the Council of Cardinals is gonna be in his efforts
to reframe the curia, renew the curia? – Well, he is already
reframing and renewing. First of all, the new dicastery for integral human development combines three different
pontifical councils. That’s a more efficient operation. Secondly, he brought together
the various media functions: Radio Vatican, Radio TV, Press Office, there’re about five of them,
and he put them under one head. He’s done the same with laity. He brought things together under laity. He’s streamlining things. It’s pretty hard because
he tells the heads of these offices: “I
want this streamlined, “and we’re gonna combine these offices, “but ya can’t lay anybody off.” It’s tough on them. He’s about that structural
stuff, certainly. That is going on right now. On the finance side of things, he’s made some headway but not a lot. There’s still a lot more to be made. He’s got the Vatican Bank under control. As I said, we signed an
agreement on tax law, anti-money-laundering law. Those kind of things
are being taken care of. There’re still other
portions of Vatican finances that really need specific attention. The Vatican owns a lotta property. Vatican hasn’t raised some of the rent on that property in 50 years. ‘Cause Uncle Luigi had
the property before, and he gave it to his nephew,
who gave it to his son. There’s a lot of that that goes on there. It’s just not transparent. He would like to clean that up. Lastly, there’s a big question about how powerful the secretary of state is, or whether he’s powerful enough. But, Francis did set up, at the advice of his council of nine, the Secretary of the Economy. But more recently, the head
of the Secretary of Economy has had to go back to Australia. So that has given more room
for the secretary of state to creep in and take more
power on economic issues. So there are things happening. Many people believe that
he should’ve moved faster, he should’ve moved more profoundly. But nothing in the Vatican moves fast. That’s an oxymoron. Good. (audience applauding) – Thank you very much, Ambassador Hackett. Just a reminder. There are some refreshments in the lobby. Please do hang around. I think there’ll be an opportunity to speak face to face
with Ambassador Hackett. I wanted to really
thank Ambassador Hackett for accepting our invitation to be here. This is a very very special occasion. President Sullivan mentioned
the honorary degree that we here at St. Thomas
gave to Ambassador Hackett, 2011, was it? Yes. We are in the presence
here of an individual who has dedicated his
life and has continued to dedicate his life to the Church, to public service, to the common good. You don’t meet this kind of
person every day, believe me. If I may say so, you
are really a model for the kind of student we seek
to educate here at St. Thomas. So, please join me in giving
a very warm round of applause to Ambassador Hackett. Thank you. Thank you very much. (audience applauding) Once again, thanks,
everyone for coming out. Please enjoy some
refreshments in the lobby.

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