Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Vatican shares personal impressions of diplomacy and Pope Francis

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After two and a half years in Rome, the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Joe Donnelly, is stepping down.

Before taking up his post, the former U.S. Senator of Indiana had never been to Italy, let alone the Vatican. But he jumped right into European diplomacy at a time marked by conflict. Donnelly was appointed Ambassador around the same time that Russia invaded Ukraine. Now, as he is stepping down, violence continues to rage in Gaza.

U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See

The first time I met with the Pope, he said to me, “This is a hard time.” And it has been in regards to the conflicts out there.
There's so many agents of hatred out there and what we try to do is bring back some of the light, some of the peace, some of the ways that peace can be achieved in this world.

Looking back at his time in Rome, Donnelly fondly recalls his relationship with Pope Francis and his commitment to creating lasting peace.

U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See

He is humble. He is incredibly hardworking. He has a wonderful sense of humor.
He's somebody who is concerned about the human dignity of every person. His focus is on how each and every person, child, whatever country you're from, whatever continent you're from, that you have the chance to share in God's grace.

The Ambassador assures that U.S. relations with Pope Francis and the Vatican are strong. And, from his experiences on the other side of the world, this is what Donnelly wants Americans to know about the Vatican:

U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See

That the people who work there are incredibly hardworking. They are very serious, very focused and their goal is to try to make the lives of people around the world—from every corner—better. To try to bring God to all of them.

With U.S. presidential elections around the corner, the Ambassador says he would have gone home in November, regardless. But he has chosen to step down a few months early.

U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See

I'm thinking maybe there's some things I can do back home to try to help my own country.

When he returns to Indiana with his family on July 8, Ambassador Donnelly will be taking many of the Pope’s messages back with him.


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