The New York Times reports that Americans United for Separation of Church and State are asking President Clinton to discontinue the practice of sending a U.S. representative to the Vatican.

The United States extended full diplomatic relations to the Vatican during the Reagan administration following decades of informal representation. The current ambassador, Dr. Thomas P. Melady, is a Catholic League member and has served on the League’s national board of directors.

This latest call for the end of formal diplomatic ties with the Vatican follows on the heels of an earlier request to Clinton by Rev. Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Christian Life Commission. Land was quoted as telling Clinton, “In light of your Baptist heritage [we ask] that you revoke this policy.”

Diplomatic ties with the Vatican are seen by many as some sort of “recognition” of the Roman Catholic Church rather than as a relationship between two sovereign states. The fact that the Vatican exchanges ambassador level diplomats with a host of other nations is a fact somehow lost on those who oppose the continuation of this relationship by the United States.

There has been no response to these requests by the White House, which has not even formally acknowledged receipt of the letters.

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