Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd today officially opened the first permanent Chancery of the Australian Embassy to the Holy See.
“Our new chancery demonstrates our commitment to maintaining a resident mission to the Holy See,” Mr Rudd said.
Australia and the Holy See established diplomatic relations in 1973, but until the appointment of Ambassador Fischer, the Australian Embassy had non-resident status.
“Given the Holy See's importance and influence in world affairs, it was time to take the diplomatic relationship to the next level,” said Mr Rudd.
As the central authority of the Catholic Church, the Holy See's influence extends well beyond that of a traditional nation state's diplomatic resources. Across the globe, it has a constituency of more than 1.1 billion people.
Since taking up his appointment in January 2009, Mr Fischer has engaged with senior Vatican figures on many issues, including human rights, disarmament, ethical economic growth, and food security.
Mr Fischer has also worked to ensure that the canonisation of Blessed Mary MacKillop tells the story not only of miracles, but also of the hard work and vision of a pioneer Australian who dedicated her life to the poor, and gave many children their only opportunity of an education.
“Ambassador Fischer has raised Australia's profile and our engagement with the Holy See, and now our embassy has a permanent home, fit for the purpose,” said Mr Rudd.
Ambassador Tim Fischer and other embassy staff have been working from the new Chancery since its completion on 27 July 2010.
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