30th Jul 2021

Vatican protocol favours Van Rompuy, snubs Barroso

  • The interior of the dome of St Peter's church in the Vatican in Rome (Photo: flip.and.serena)

The Vatican snubbed EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso at a ceremony for the late Pope John Paul II earlier this month in favour of EU Council head Herman Van Rompuy.

According to Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Barroso, his wife and Italian commissioner Antonio Tajani were on 1 May in the Vatican held back by guards when they tried to enter a special zone where VIPs came to meet Pope Benedict XVI and to kiss his ring.

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A bishop later intervened in Barroso's favour, but it was too late to meet the pontiff and Barroso left in choler.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi on Friday (20 May) told the Italian Catholic news agency Asca that Barroso was not on the guest list because "it had been previously communicated to the Holy See that it would be the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, who would greet the Pope on behalf of the EU institutions."

The meeting was restricted to heads of state and government, Lombardi added, saying that since Van Rompuy chairs summits in Brussels he was considered to be the appropriate EU guest.

''There is no reason to speak of lesser esteem and appreciation for the European institutions by the Holy See. The greeting by the Pope to President Van Rompuy indeed intended to show this appreciation."

In a press conference on Friday, Barroso's spokeswoman tried to downplay the incident and said that "the state of our relations with the Vatican is very good."

"President Barroso went to the beatification ceremony of Pope John Paul II because he wanted to pay homage to his memory and what he represents in inspiring people around the world about the values of freedom, peace and human dignity."

The "protocol confusion ... will not disturb our relations with the Vatican," she said. "It's sorted and behind us now."

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