I’m liking what the Catholic News Service is dishing out today regarding the Vatican’s diplomatic corps:

If the outside world imagines Vatican diplomacy as Machiavellian realpolitik, the pope sees it differently. The qualities of a good diplomat, he said, are not cunning and craftiness, but honesty, consistency and respect for others.

I think they’ve got it right – many people do imagine Vatican intrigues in a kind of Machiavellian style. So it’s heartening to hear about doing diplomacy “gospel-style”, though I’m sure that doesn’t go over well where separation of church and state are paramount.

I’m reminded of last year’s papal visit to the UK. I got an earful from a British friend who didn’t think the state ought to be paying for what was a “religious” visit. But the pope has the (weird, in this day and age, assuredly) position of being both Peter’s successor AND a head of state. Why not accord the same courtesies as might be extended to other state heads?

One of the things the Catholic Church gets to do in this day and age is raise legitimate questions for us all about whether, and to what extent, a separation of “religion” and politics is really intelligible.