Holy Alliance? The Establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between the United States and the Holy See

Part of the Culture and Religion in International Relations book series (CRIR)


The establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and the Holy See under the Reagan administration and the pontificate of John Paul II in 1984 took place during a dramatic last phase of the Cold War. Speculations that these circumstances indicated a full-fledged strategic alliance of the president and the pope against Communism are proven to be an exaggeration. However, a thorough analysis of relevant White House papers and interviews with leading protagonists from the U.S. and the Holy See shows that the rapprochement was organized by a U.S. administration of which key members were statesmen with worldviews strongly shaped by their faith. Anticipating the collapse of the communist bloc, they established a confidential collaboration that was strong enough to shape world politics—and to overcome the domestic obstacles that had prevented U.S. Presidents from establishing full diplomatic relations with the Holy See for more than 100 years.


Pope Holy See John Paul II USA Ronald Reagan Diplomacy Cold War 

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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MunichGermany

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