January 28, 2004
VATICAN CITY — U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney meets with Pope John Paul II on
Tuesday at a time when the Vatican has put aside its opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq and is seeking greater involvement by the international community in rebuilding the country.
Cheney will have a private meeting with the 83-year-old pontiff,
then hold talks with the Vatican's No. 2 official, Secretary of
State Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
It will be the highest-level Vatican-U.S. meeting since the
Iraqi war began. Secretary of State Colin Powell visited in June,
and those talks were taken as a sign that Washington's relationship
with the Vatican was not damaged by disagreement on the war.
The Vatican values its relationship with the United States -
formal diplomatic ties were only established 20 years ago -
counting on Washington to be a major force in promoting democracy,
human rights and religious freedom around the world.
It has clearly been seeking to tone down rhetoric that can be
taken as European anti-Americanism.
Since coming to Europe, Cheney has emphasized the need for
democracies to work together but that they should not fear using
force if diplomacy cannot deter terrorism.
The views of the Vatican and the Bush administration are close
on other issues such as banning late-term procedures that opponents call
partial-birth abortion. The Vatican assailed Bush's predecessor,
Bill Clinton, for what it called his "shameful" veto of similar
The Vatican has also mounted a campaign to bar same-sex couples
from receiving legal recognition. Bush opposes gay marriage and
would support a constitutional amendment against it if the courts
insist in its favor. –Sapa-AP
Many US states pass tougher anti-gay marriage laws [26/01/2004]