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By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 10, 2008

A diplomat is a gentleman who lies for his country, says one familiar maxim. Diplomacy is the art of letting the other fellow have your own way, says another. I was pleased to see that Pope Benedict, in addressing the priests of the Vatican's diplomatic corps, gently but unambiguously opposed this elegant cynicism and urged them instead to take their priestly relationship to Christ as the indispensable key to their job:

To fulfill your task faithfully, strive to "live by faith in the Son of God," that is, strive to be shepherds according to the heart of Christ, daily engaging him in an intimate dialogue. Unity with Jesus is the secret of authentic success of the ministry of every priest. Whatever work you perform in the Church, concern yourselves to be always his true friends, faithful friends who have met and have learned to love him beyond all else.

The insistence of St. Augustine that "God does not need my lie" gives voice to a depth of faith that, if taken at face value, would bring about the salvation of the diplomat and the undoing of the conventional practice of diplomacy. Think of the timbers shivered (not only in the Vatican diplomatic corps) if those in Pope Benedict's audience took his words to heart.

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  • Posted by: - Jun. 10, 2008 9:04 PM ET USA

    I certianly symphathize with the cynical view of diplomacy as that is what we seem to see and hear from those in positions of power, always speaking out of both sides of their mouths. Yet if we look at one of the greatest diplomats in modern history, Sir Thomas More, we see a dignity played out that must inspire. Truth must always be presented yet to get others to hear it is a challenge and at times impossible. In the end the choice the diplomat faces is taking a stand in charity.

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