US embassy cable - 02VATICAN1171 (original version)

THE VATICAN'S "OTHER" INTERESTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST (original version)

Identifier: 02VATICAN1171
Wikileaks: View 02VATICAN1171 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Vatican
Created: 2002-03-06 13:35:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: EG IS IT JO LE PREL SA SY IS IT JO LE PREL SA SY IS IT JO LE PREL SA SY IS IT JO LE PREL SA SY VT VTEG VTEG VTEG
Redacted: This cable was redacted by Wikileaks. [Show redacted version] [Compare redacted and unredacted version]
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 001171 
 
SIPDIS 
 
C O R R E C T E D COPY (SIGNATURE LINE CHANGE) 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/WE (D.MENUTTI) 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2012 
TAGS: EG, IS, IT, JO, LE, PREL, SA, SY, IS, IT, JO, LE, PREL, SA, SY, IS, IT, JO, LE, PREL, SA, SY, IS, IT, JO, LE, PREL, SA, SY, VT, VTEG, VTEG, VTEG 
SUBJECT: THE VATICAN'S "OTHER" INTERESTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: AMBASSADOR JIM NICHOLSON FOR REASONS 1.5 (A) AND (D). 
 
1.(C) SUMMARY:  THIS IS AN OVERVIEW OF THE VATICAN'S INTEREST 
IN THE MIDDLE EAST, OUTSIDE OF THE ISRAEL/PALESTINIAN DISPUTE 
AND THE STATUS OF JERUSALEM.  DCM RECENTLY MET WITH NEW 
VATICAN MIDDLE EAST DIRECTOR, TOMASSO COPPOLA, MONSIGNOR 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        VATICA  01171  01 OF 02  061557Z 
JOHAN BONNY, A CHIEF NEGOTIATOR IN THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR 
CHRISTIAN UNITY, AND MEMBERS OF THE ARAB DIPLOMATIC COMMUNITY 
ACCREDITED TO THE VATICAN.  THE VATICAN'S FOREIGN POLICY IS 
GENERALLY FOUNDED ON "DEFENDING THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN 
PERSON", AND IS THUS LARGELY CONGRUENT WITH USG INTERESTS. 
IN THE MIDDLE EAST, HOWEVER, IT HAS A NUMBER OF PARTICULAR 
INTERESTS, SOME WHERE WE CAN EXPECT TO AGREE, OTHERS WHERE 
OUR INTERESTS ARE STARKLY OPPOSITE.  THE VATICAN'S INTERESTS 
IN THIS REGION ARISE FROM AN INDIGENOUS CONSTITUENCY (E.G. 
CHALDEANS IN IRAQ) AS WELL AS DIALOG WITH THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH 
OF THE EAST AND THE ORIENTAL ORTHODOX CHURCHES OF THE REGION 
(EG. THE SYRIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH).  COUNTRIES OF INTEREST ARE 
MOST NOTABLY LEBANON, IRAQ, SYRIA AND TO A LESSER DEGREE 
JORDAN AND EGYPT.  THE LACK OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM FOR THE 
FOREIGN CATHOLICS (MOSTLY FILIPINO GUEST WORKERS) IN SAUDI 
ARABIA WILL REMAIN AN ISSUE OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE FOR THE 
VATICAN.  FROM A STRICTLY GEOPOLITICAL PERSPECTIVE THE 
VATICAN WILL ALSO STRIVE TO HAVE GOOD RELATIONS WITH IRAN. 
END SUMMARY 
 
2.(C) CONCERN FOR CATHOLIC MINORITIES 
 
AS WITH ANY NATION-STATE, THE VATICAN STRIVES TO PROTECT ITS 
"CITIZENS" OVERSEAS.  FOR THE VATICAN, THIS 
CITIZEN-CONSTITUENCY IS COMPOSED OF CATHOLICS.  IN THE MIDDLE 
EAST THE COUNTRY OF PRIME CONCERN IN THIS REGARD IS LEBANON. 
ACCORDING TO VATICAN ISSUED FIGURES, THERE ARE 1.9 MILLION 
CATHOLICS IN LEBANON, 311,000 CATHOLICS IN SYRIA, AND 277,000 
CATHOLICS IN IRAQ.  THE VATICAN DOES NOT CONSIDER LEBANON A 
MUSLIM COUNTRY WITH A CATHOLIC MINORITY, BUT A COUNTRY IN 
WHICH CATHOLICS ARE EQUAL PARTNERS.  IT SEES LEBANON AS A 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        VATICA  01171  01 OF 02  061557Z 
COUNTRY WHICH SHOULD SERVE AS AN EXAMPLE FOR 
CHRISTIAN/ISLAMIC COEXISTENCE.  FOREIGN MINISTER TAURAN, AS 
WELL AS MIDDLE EAST DIRECTOR COPPOLA HAVE BOTH SERVED IN 
LEBANON, AND ARE PERSONALLY INTERESTED IN THE LEBANESE 
SITUATION.  ALTHOUGH, ACCORDING TO OFFICIAL VATICAN FIGURES, 
THERE ARE MORE CATHOLICS IN SYRIA THAN IRAQ, THE VATICAN IS 
MORE CONCERNED ABOUT THE SAFETY OF THE CHALDEAN CATHOLICS IN 
IRAQ THAN WITH THAT OF THE CATHOLIC COMMUNITIES IN SYRIA. 
THIS IS BECAUSE THE VATICAN SEES THE LIKELIHOOD OF AN ISLAMIC 
FUNDAMENTALIST REGIME COMING TO POWER AS HIGHER IN IRAQ THAN 
IN SYRIA.  THERE IS ALSO A SMALL CATHOLIC MINORITY IN JORDAN 
(72,000 ACCORDING TO VATICAN FIGURES) COMPOSED OF ETHNIC 
PALESTINIANS. 
 
3.(C) DIALOG WITH THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST AND THE 
ORIENTAL ORTHODOX CHURCHES 
 
THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST WAS THE FIRST MAJOR CHRISTIAN 
BODY TO FALL OUT ON COMMUNION WITH ROME.  THIS OCCURRED IN 
THE 5TH CENTURY OVER THEOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES.  ITS SEAT WAS 
MOVED FROM PERSIA TO BAGHDAD IN 766 WHERE IT HAS REMAINED. 
IN 1553 A GROUP FROM WITHIN THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH REENTERED 
COMMUNION WITH ROME, WHICH WAS THE START OF THE CHALDEAN 
CATHOLIC CHURCH.  THE VATICAN IS CLOSER TO "REUNIFICATION" 
WITH THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST THAN WITH ANY OTHER BODY 
OF EASTERN CHURCHES.  IN 1994, POPE JOHN PAUL II AND THE 
ASSYRIAN PATRIARCH SIGNED A DECLARATION WHICH BASICALLY ENDED 
ALL THEOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES.  DIALOG CONTINUES FOR FULL 
REUNIFICATION.  THUS, IN ADDITION TO PROTECTING THE CATHOLIC 
COMMUNITY OF IRAQ, THE VATICAN NEEDS GOOD RELATIONS WITH THE 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        VATICA  01171  01 OF 02  061557Z 
IRAQI GOVERNMENT FOR AN ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH NEGOTIATIONS 
WITH THE "OFFICIAL" IRAQI CHRISTIAN CHURCH CAN CONTINUE. 
 
THE ORIENTAL ORTHODOX COMMUNITY IS COMPOSED OF SIX 
INDEPENDENT NATIONAL CHURCHES WHICH ARE IN COMMUNION WITH 
EACH OTHER, BUT NOT WITH THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST, THE 
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, OR THE ORTHODOX CHURCHES (E.G. GREEK, 
RUSSIAN, ETC).  THIS BODY BROKE WITH THE MAIN BODY OF THE 
CHURCH (AT THAT TIME LOCATED IN ROME AND CONSTANTINOPLE) IN 
THE FIFTH CENTURY, APPROXIMATELY 30 YEARS AFTER THE ASSYRIAN 
CHURCH'S BREAK.  THIS ORIENTAL ORTHODOX COMMUNITY IS COMPOSED 
OF THE ARMENIAN APOSTOLIC CHURCH, THE COPTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH 
(EGYPT), THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH, THE SYRIAN ORTHODOX 
CHURCH, THE MALANKARA ORTHODOX SYRIAN CHURCH (INDIA), AND THE 
ERITREAN ORTHODOX CHURCH.  THE VATICAN'S DIALOG WITH THIS 
COMMUNITY IS NOT AS FAR ALONG AS WITH THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH, 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ9479 
 
PAGE 01        VATICA  01171  02 OF 02  061557Z 
ACTION EUR-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   COR-01   NP-00    AMAD-00  ACQ-00   CIAE-00  DODE-00 
      DS-00    FBIE-00  VC-00    TEDE-00  INR-00   IO-00    VCE-00 
      NEA-00   NSAE-00  SSO-00   SS-00    T-00     EPAE-00  SNIS-00 
      NISC-00  DSCC-00  NFAT-00  SAS-00     /001W 
                  ------------------705EC5  061557Z /38 
O 061335Z MAR 02 ZDS 
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 
INFO AMEMBASSY AMMAN 
AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 
AMEMBASSY CAIRO 
AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 
AMEMBASSY RIYADH 
AMEMBASSY ROME 
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 VATICAN 001171 
 
SIPDIS 
 
C O R R E C T E D COPY (SIGNATURE LINE CHANGE) 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/WE (D.MENUTTI) 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2012 
TAGS: EG, IS, IT, JO, LE, PREL, SA, SY, VT 
SUBJECT: THE VATICAN'S "OTHER" INTERESTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST 
 
BUT MUCH FURTHER ALONG THAN WITH THE ORTHODOX CHURCH.  THAT 
SAID, THE VATICAN HAS TO TREAD CAREFULLY IN THIS AREA.  AFTER 
SEVERAL JOINT DECLARATIONS WITH THE ARMENIAN CHURCH, COPTIC 
POPE SHENOUDA III OF EGYPT DECLARED THAT DIALOG WITH THE 
VATICAN MUST BE DONE ON A FULL COMMUNITY BASIS, AND NOT BY 
INDIVIDUAL NATIONAL MEMBERS.  THUS, THE VATICAN NOW HAS TO BE 
MORE SENSITIVE TO THE DESIRES OF THE EGYPTIAN COPTIC 
COMMUNITY AND THE SYRIAN ORTODOX CHURCH IF IT WANTS PROGRESS 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        VATICA  01171  02 OF 02  061557Z 
IN THE OVERALL DIALOG. 
 
4.(C) WHAT ARE THE VATICAN'S INTERESTS AND WHAT SHOULD THE 
U.S. EXPECT 
 
-- LEBANON:  THE VATICAN WANTS TO MAINTAIN A STRONG CHRISTIAN 
PRESENCE IN A UNIFIED, INDEPENDENT LEBANON.   IT WILL 
CONTINUE TO PUSH FOR THE REMOVAL OF ALL FOREIGN TROOPS (I.E. 
SYRIAN) AND REINTEGRATION OF THE SOUTH INTO THE COUNTRY.  WE 
SHOULD EXPECT THE VATICAN TO CONTINUE TO ASK THE UNITED 
STATES TO HAVE STRONGER, BETTER CONTACTS WITH MARONITE 
PATRIARCH SAFIR.  WE SHOULD ALSO EXPECT THE VATICAN TO 
EXPRESS CONCERN OVER WHAT THEY SEE AS RETALIATION AGAINST THE 
CHRISTIANS IN SOUTHERN LEBANON WHO HAVE BEEN ACCUSED OF 
COLLABORATING WITH THE ISRAELIS. 
 
IRAQ:  IRAQ WILL REMAIN A BONE OF CONTENTION BETWEEN THE 
UNITED STATES AND VATICAN.  WE SHOULD EXPECT THE VATICAN TO 
STRONGLY CONDEMN THE CONTINUED EMBARGO AS "HARMFUL" TO THE 
IRAQI POPULATION.  IN ITS EYES, THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE TO 
SADDAM HUSSEIN EXCEPT AN ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALIST REGIME. THUS 
FOR REASONS OF PROTECTING THE CATHOLICS IN IRAQ, AS WELL AS 
CREATING AN ENVIRONMENT FOR SUCCESSFUL NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE 
ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST, THE VATICAN WILL BE AMONG THE 
LEAST VOCAL INTERNATIONAL CRITICS OF THE CURRENT REGIME.  WE 
SHOULD EXPECT VOCAL, PUBLIC CRITICISM OF ANY MILITARY ACTION 
AGAINST IRAQ. 
 
SYRIA:  BECAUSE DAMASCUS IS THE SEAT OF THE SYRIAN ORTHODOX 
CHURCH, AND ON ACCOUNT OF THE PRESENCE OF A LARGE CATHOLIC 
COMMUNITY, THE VATICAN IS CONTINUE TO SEEK CORRECT, GOOD 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        VATICA  01171  02 OF 02  061557Z 
RELATIONS WITH SYRIA.  AS IT DOES NOT FEAR A FUNDAMENTALIST 
TAKE OVER, IT CAN BE EXPECTED TO BE LESS SENSITIVE TO 
CRITICISM OF SYRIAN POLICY THAN TO IRAQI POLICY.  THAT SAID, 
VATICAN FRUSTRATION OVER THE OVERT ANTI-SEMITIC REMARKS OF 
PRESIDENT ASSAD DURING THE POPE'S APRIL, 2001 VISIT TO SYRIA 
HAVE SUBSIDED.  IN FACT, THE POPE RECENTLY SUSPENDED HIS 
LENTEN RETREAT (WHICH IS HIGHLY UNUSUAL) TO MEET ASSAD DURING 
THE SYRIAN PRESIDENT'S VISIT TO ROME; 
 
IRAN:  THE NUMBER OF CATHOLICS IS MINUSCULE (12,000 BY 
VATICAN ESTIMATES).  HOWEVER, THE VATICAN SEES IRAN AS A 
PARTNER IN CATHOLIC/ISLAMIC DIALOG.  IT WILL THEREFORE STRIVE 
TO HAVE PROPER RELATIONS WITH THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN; 
 
SAUDI ARABIA: THERE ARE OVER 1 MILLION FOREIGN CATHOLICS IN 
SAUDI ARABIA.  THE VATICAN WILL CONTINUE TO MAKE THEIR RIGHT 
TO PRACTICE CATHOLICISM AN INTERNATIONAL ISSUE.  WE SHOULD 
EXPECT THIS TO BE RAISED AT ANY MEETING BETWEEN A HIGH-LEVEL 
U.S. GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL AND FOREIGN MINISTER TAURAN OR PRIME 
MINISTER SODANO.  NICHOLSON 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
> 
@@@OASYS@@@ 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ8924 
 
PAGE 01        VATICA  01171  01 OF 02  061421Z 
ACTION EUR-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AMAD-00  ACQ-00   CIAE-00  DODE-00  DS-00 
      FBIE-00  VC-00    TEDE-00  INR-00   IO-00    VCE-00   NEA-00 
      NSAE-00  SSO-00   SS-00    EPAE-00  SNIS-00  NISC-00  DSCC-00 
      NFAT-00  SAS-00     /000W 
                  ------------------704D53  061421Z /38 
O 061335Z MAR 02 
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 
INFO AMEMBASSY AMMAN 
AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 
AMEMBASSY CAIRO 
AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 
AMEMBASSY RIYADH 
AMEMBASSY ROME 
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 001171 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/WE (D.MENUTTI) 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2012 
TAGS: EG, IS, IT, JO, LE, PREL, SA, SY, VT 
SUBJECT: THE VATICAN'S "OTHER" INTERESTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: AMBASSADOR JIM NICHOLSON FOR REASONS 1.5 (A) AND (D). 
 
1.(C) SUMMARY:  THIS IS AN OVERVIEW OF THE VATICAN'S INTEREST 
IN THE MIDDLE EAST, OUTSIDE OF THE ISRAEL/PALESTINIAN DISPUTE 
AND THE STATUS OF JERUSALEM.  DCM RECENTLY MET WITH NEW 
VATICAN MIDDLE EAST DIRECTOR, TOMASSO COPPOLA, MONSIGNOR 
JOHAN BONNY, A CHIEF NEGOTIATOR IN THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR 
CHRISTIAN UNITY, AND MEMBERS OF THE ARAB DIPLOMATIC COMMUNITY 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        VATICA  01171  01 OF 02  061421Z 
ACCREDITED TO THE VATICAN.  THE VATICAN'S FOREIGN POLICY IS 
GENERALLY FOUNDED ON "DEFENDING THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN 
PERSON", AND IS THUS LARGELY CONGRUENT WITH USG INTERESTS. 
IN THE MIDDLE EAST, HOWEVER, IT HAS A NUMBER OF PARTICULAR 
INTERESTS, SOME WHERE WE CAN EXPECT TO AGREE, OTHERS WHERE 
OUR INTERESTS ARE STARKLY OPPOSITE.  THE VATICAN'S INTERESTS 
IN THIS REGION ARISE FROM AN INDIGENOUS CONSTITUENCY (E.G. 
CHALDEANS IN IRAQ) AS WELL AS DIALOG WITH THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH 
OF THE EAST AND THE ORIENTAL ORTHODOX CHURCHES OF THE REGION 
(EG. THE SYRIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH).  COUNTRIES OF INTEREST ARE 
MOST NOTABLY LEBANON, IRAQ, SYRIA AND TO A LESSER DEGREE 
JORDAN AND EGYPT.  THE LACK OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM FOR THE 
FOREIGN CATHOLICS (MOSTLY FILIPINO GUEST WORKERS) IN SAUDI 
ARABIA WILL REMAIN AN ISSUE OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE FOR THE 
VATICAN.  FROM A STRICTLY GEOPOLITICAL PERSPECTIVE THE 
VATICAN WILL ALSO STRIVE TO HAVE GOOD RELATIONS WITH IRAN. 
END SUMMARY 
 
2.(C) CONCERN FOR CATHOLIC MINORITIES 
 
AS WITH ANY NATION-STATE, THE VATICAN STRIVES TO PROTECT ITS 
"CITIZENS" OVERSEAS.  FOR THE VATICAN, THIS 
CITIZEN-CONSTITUENCY IS COMPOSED OF CATHOLICS.  IN THE MIDDLE 
EAST THE COUNTRY OF PRIME CONCERN IN THIS REGARD IS LEBANON. 
ACCORDING TO VATICAN ISSUED FIGURES, THERE ARE 1.9 MILLION 
CATHOLICS IN LEBANON, 311,000 CATHOLICS IN SYRIA, AND 277,000 
CATHOLICS IN IRAQ.  THE VATICAN DOES NOT CONSIDER LEBANON A 
MUSLIM COUNTRY WITH A CATHOLIC MINORITY, BUT A COUNTRY IN 
WHICH CATHOLICS ARE EQUAL PARTNERS.  IT SEES LEBANON AS A 
COUNTRY WHICH SHOULD SERVE AS AN EXAMPLE FOR 
CHRISTIAN/ISLAMIC COEXISTENCE.  FOREIGN MINISTER TAURAN, AS 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        VATICA  01171  01 OF 02  061421Z 
WELL AS MIDDLE EAST DIRECTOR COPPOLA HAVE BOTH SERVED IN 
LEBANON, AND ARE PERSONALLY INTERESTED IN THE LEBANESE 
SITUATION.  ALTHOUGH, ACCORDING TO OFFICIAL VATICAN FIGURES, 
THERE ARE MORE CATHOLICS IN SYRIA THAN IRAQ, THE VATICAN IS 
MORE CONCERNED ABOUT THE SAFETY OF THE CHALDEAN CATHOLICS IN 
IRAQ THAN WITH THAT OF THE CATHOLIC COMMUNITIES IN SYRIA. 
THIS IS BECAUSE THE VATICAN SEES THE LIKELIHOOD OF AN ISLAMIC 
FUNDAMENTALIST REGIME COMING TO POWER AS HIGHER IN IRAQ THAN 
IN SYRIA.  THERE IS ALSO A SMALL CATHOLIC MINORITY IN JORDAN 
(72,000 ACCORDING TO VATICAN FIGURES) COMPOSED OF ETHNIC 
PALESTINIANS. 
 
3.(C) DIALOG WITH THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST AND THE 
ORIENTAL ORTHODOX CHURCHES 
 
THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST WAS THE FIRST MAJOR CHRISTIAN 
BODY TO FALL OUT ON COMMUNION WITH ROME.  THIS OCCURRED IN 
THE 5TH CENTURY OVER THEOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES.  ITS SEAT WAS 
MOVED FROM PERSIA TO BAGHDAD IN 766 WHERE IT HAS REMAINED. 
IN 1553 A GROUP FROM WITHIN THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH REENTERED 
COMMUNION WITH ROME, WHICH WAS THE START OF THE CHALDEAN 
CATHOLIC CHURCH.  THE VATICAN IS CLOSER TO "REUNIFICATION" 
WITH THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST THAN WITH ANY OTHER BODY 
OF EASTERN CHURCHES.  IN 1994, POPE JOHN PAUL II AND THE 
ASSYRIAN PATRIARCH SIGNED A DECLARATION WHICH BASICALLY ENDED 
ALL THEOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES.  DIALOG CONTINUES FOR FULL 
REUNIFICATION.  THUS, IN ADDITION TO PROTECTING THE CATHOLIC 
COMMUNITY OF IRAQ, THE VATICAN NEEDS GOOD RELATIONS WITH THE 
IRAQI GOVERNMENT FOR AN ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH NEGOTIATIONS 
WITH THE "OFFICIAL" IRAQI CHRISTIAN CHURCH CAN CONTINUE. 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        VATICA  01171  01 OF 02  061421Z 
 
THE ORIENTAL ORTHODOX COMMUNITY IS COMPOSED OF SIX 
INDEPENDENT NATIONAL CHURCHES WHICH ARE IN COMMUNION WITH 
EACH OTHER, BUT NOT WITH THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST, THE 
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, OR THE ORTHODOX CHURCHES (E.G. GREEK, 
RUSSIAN, ETC).  THIS BODY BROKE WITH THE MAIN BODY OF THE 
CHURCH (AT THAT TIME LOCATED IN ROME AND CONSTANTINOPLE) IN 
THE FIFTH CENTURY, APPROXIMATELY 30 YEARS AFTER THE ASSYRIAN 
CHURCH'S BREAK.  THIS ORIENTAL ORTHODOX COMMUNITY IS COMPOSED 
OF THE ARMENIAN APOSTOLIC CHURCH, THE COPTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH 
(EGYPT), THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH, THE SYRIAN ORTHODOX 
CHURCH, THE MALANKARA ORTHODOX SYRIAN CHURCH (INDIA), AND THE 
ERITREAN ORTHODOX CHURCH.  THE VATICAN'S DIALOG WITH THIS 
COMMUNITY IS NOT AS FAR ALONG AS WITH THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH, 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ8925 
 
PAGE 01        VATICA  01171  02 OF 02  061421Z 
ACTION EUR-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AMAD-00  ACQ-00   CIAE-00  DODE-00  DS-00 
      FBIE-00  VC-00    TEDE-00  INR-00   IO-00    VCE-00   NEA-00 
      NSAE-00  SSO-00   SS-00    EPAE-00  SNIS-00  NISC-00  DSCC-00 
      NFAT-00  SAS-00     /000W 
                  ------------------704D59  061421Z /38 
O 061335Z MAR 02 
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 
INFO AMEMBASSY AMMAN 
AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 
AMEMBASSY CAIRO 
AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 
AMEMBASSY RIYADH 
AMEMBASSY ROME 
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 VATICAN 001171 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/WE (D.MENUTTI) 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2012 
TAGS: EG, IS, IT, JO, LE, PREL, SA, SY, VT 
SUBJECT: THE VATICAN'S "OTHER" INTERESTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST 
 
BUT MUCH FURTHER ALONG THAN WITH THE ORTHODOX CHURCH.  THAT 
SAID, THE VATICAN HAS TO TREAD CAREFULLY IN THIS AREA.  AFTER 
SEVERAL JOINT DECLARATIONS WITH THE ARMENIAN CHURCH, COPTIC 
POPE SHENOUDA III OF EGYPT DECLARED THAT DIALOG WITH THE 
VATICAN MUST BE DONE ON A FULL COMMUNITY BASIS, AND NOT BY 
INDIVIDUAL NATIONAL MEMBERS.  THUS, THE VATICAN NOW HAS TO BE 
MORE SENSITIVE TO THE DESIRES OF THE EGYPTIAN COPTIC 
COMMUNITY AND THE SYRIAN ORTODOX CHURCH IF IT WANTS PROGRESS 
IN THE OVERALL DIALOG. 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        VATICA  01171  02 OF 02  061421Z 
4.(C) WHAT ARE THE VATICAN'S INTERESTS AND WHAT SHOULD THE 
U.S. EXPECT 
 
-- LEBANON:  THE VATICAN WANTS TO MAINTAIN A STRONG CHRISTIAN 
PRESENCE IN A UNIFIED, INDEPENDENT LEBANON.   IT WILL 
CONTINUE TO PUSH FOR THE REMOVAL OF ALL FOREIGN TROOPS (I.E. 
SYRIAN) AND REINTEGRATION OF THE SOUTH INTO THE COUNTRY.  WE 
SHOULD EXPECT THE VATICAN TO CONTINUE TO ASK THE UNITED 
STATES TO HAVE STRONGER, BETTER CONTACTS WITH MARONITE 
PATRIARCH SAFIR.  WE SHOULD ALSO EXPECT THE VATICAN TO 
EXPRESS CONCERN OVER WHAT THEY SEE AS RETALIATION AGAINST THE 
CHRISTIANS IN SOUTHERN LEBANON WHO HAVE BEEN ACCUSED OF 
COLLABORATING WITH THE ISRAELIS. 
 
IRAQ:  IRAQ WILL REMAIN A BONE OF CONTENTION BETWEEN THE 
UNITED STATES AND VATICAN.  WE SHOULD EXPECT THE VATICAN TO 
STRONGLY CONDEMN THE CONTINUED EMBARGO AS "HARMFUL" TO THE 
IRAQI POPULATION.  IN ITS EYES, THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE TO 
SADDAM HUSSEIN EXCEPT AN ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALIST REGIME. THUS 
FOR REASONS OF PROTECTING THE CATHOLICS IN IRAQ, AS WELL AS 
CREATING AN ENVIRONMENT FOR SUCCESSFUL NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE 
ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST, THE VATICAN WILL BE AMONG THE 
LEAST VOCAL INTERNATIONAL CRITICS OF THE CURRENT REGIME.  WE 
SHOULD EXPECT VOCAL, PUBLIC CRITICISM OF ANY MILITARY ACTION 
AGAINST IRAQ. 
 
SYRIA:  BECAUSE DAMASCUS IS THE SEAT OF THE SYRIAN ORTHODOX 
CHURCH, AND ON ACCOUNT OF THE PRESENCE OF A LARGE CATHOLIC 
COMMUNITY, THE VATICAN IS CONTINUE TO SEEK CORRECT, GOOD 
RELATIONS WITH SYRIA.  AS IT DOES NOT FEAR A FUNDAMENTALIST 
TAKE OVER, IT CAN BE EXPECTED TO BE LESS SENSITIVE TO 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        VATICA  01171  02 OF 02  061421Z 
CRITICISM OF SYRIAN POLICY THAN TO IRAQI POLICY.  THAT SAID, 
VATICAN FRUSTRATION OVER THE OVERT ANTI-SEMITIC REMARKS OF 
PRESIDENT ASSAD DURING THE POPE'S APRIL, 2001 VISIT TO SYRIA 
HAVE SUBSIDED.  IN FACT, THE POPE RECENTLY SUSPENDED HIS 
LENTEN RETREAT (WHICH IS HIGHLY UNUSUAL) TO MEET ASSAD DURING 
THE SYRIAN PRESIDENT'S VISIT TO ROME; 
 
IRAN:  THE NUMBER OF CATHOLICS IS MINUSCULE (12,000 BY 
VATICAN ESTIMATES).  HOWEVER, THE VATICAN SEES IRAN AS A 
PARTNER IN CATHOLIC/ISLAMIC DIALOG.  IT WILL THEREFORE STRIVE 
TO HAVE PROPER RELATIONS WITH THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN; 
 
SAUDI ARABIA: THERE ARE OVER 1 MILLION FOREIGN CATHOLICS IN 
SAUDI ARABIA.  THE VATICAN WILL CONTINUE TO MAKE THEIR RIGHT 
TO PRACTICE CATHOLICISM AN INTERNATIONAL ISSUE.  WE SHOULD 
EXPECT THIS TO BE RAISED AT ANY MEETING BETWEEN A HIGH-LEVEL 
U.S. GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL AND FOREIGN MINISTER TAURAN OR PRIME 
MINISTER SODANO.  NICHOLSON 
 
POPE 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
> 
 

 2002VATICA01171 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL 


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