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Cablegate: Vatican: No to Ahmadinejad Papal Audience

VZCZCXRO3258
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHSR
DE RUEHROV #0043 1581528
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 061528Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0945
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0979

C O N F I D E N T I A L VATICAN 000043

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/WE CERVETTI

E.O. 12958: DECL: 6/5/2033
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM IR VT
SUBJECT: VATICAN: NO TO AHMADINEJAD PAPAL AUDIENCE

CLASSIFIED BY: Rafael P. Foley, ADCM, Embassy Vatican.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (C) Summary: Holy See Undersecretary for Relations with
States Monsignor Pietro Parolin told Ambassador that Pope
Benedict would not receive Iranian President Ahmadinejad during
his visit to Rome. The reason given for denying Ahmadinejad's
request were related to the large number of visiting heads of
state in Rome for the FAO World Food Security Summit and the
limited time available to meet all the leaders who requested an
audience. End Summary.

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No Private Papal Audience for Ahmadinejad

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2. (C) Ambassador, accompanied by the Deputy Chief of Mission,
met May 31 with Monsignor Pietro Parolin, the Holy See's
Undersecretary for Relations with States (Deputy FM equivalent)
to discourage the Holy See from granting Iranian President
Ahmadinejad a Papal audience during his visit to Rome for the
FAO summit. Parolin said the Holy See always finds it difficult
to say no to a request for an audience from a head of state, and
that the Holy See's preference is always for dialogue.
Nevertheless, he confirmed that Pope Benedict would not see
Ahmadinejad during his stay in Rome, but the reason given will
be "technical", having to do with the fact that so many heads of
state wanted to see the Pope in the brief period during the FAO
Summit. Not being able to accommodate them all, but not wanting
to show favoritism, the Pope decided not to see any of the
leaders. Parolin also confirmed that there would not be any
group meeting with the visiting heads of state. Asked about the
possibility of a future papal audience for Ahmadinejad, Parolin
said the Holy See's impression is that he may find it difficult
(for internal reasons) to get permission to leave the country
for such a visit.

-------------------------------------------

Holy See Press Office Affirms "No" Decision

-------------------------------------------

4. (C) On Tuesday, June 3, the Holy See's Press Office released
a statement confirming that contrary to "certain journalistic
suppositions" circulating in the media, Pope Benedict would be
unable to agree to meet with any of the requests for private
audiences he received from heads of state who were visiting Rome
for the FAO Summit. The reason provided was "the number of
requests, the limited time available, and prior commitments.'
The statement indicated that Cardinal Secretary of State Bertone
had written each leader personally informing them of the Holy
Father's disappointment at the impossibility of meeting on this
occasion and reaffirming his willingness to receive them on a
future occasion. The statement also mentioned that this has
been the Holy See's practice since April 2006.

GLENDON

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