John Allen, always worth reading, has a story about the closing of the Embassy to the Holy See in Ireland and the possible future closings, at least among Western nations, that may be on the way. The primary causes are three, he says: the desire to cut costs; “a perception that the Vatican is less internationally engaged and less effective under Pope Benedict XVI than Pope John Paul II”; and the effect of the sex-abuse scandals, which have made the political climate more favorable to the closings than it otherwise would be.
I also thought these lines were interesting:
Vatican diplomats today, [Western ambassadors] say, are highly focused on issues of religious freedom and anti-Christian persecution, but sometimes less interested in other matters . . . . Most observers say that if there are to be additional closures or downsizings, it’s more likely, at least in the short term, to come from Europe rather than the United States. It’s a long shot, they say, that a Democratic president who already faces a rocky relationship with the Catholic church would take such a step — especially heading into 2012 elections in which the “Catholic vote” will once again be in play.
Of course, the Catholic vote will no longer be in play after the election.