Chapter 2 MISSIONARY ADAPTATION
FEW PEOPLE SEEM to be aware that the Roman Catholic Church in America is officially recognized as a State. How this came about makes interesting reading. Early in his administration, President Ronald Reagan invited the Vatican City, whose ruling head is the Pope, to open its first embassy in Washington, D.C. His Holiness responded positively, and the embassy, or Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See, opened officially on January 10, 1984.
(Nun-ci-a-ture a papal diplomatic mission headed by a nuncio)
Shortly thereafter, a complaint was filed against President Reagan at U.S. District Court in Philadelphia by the American Jewish Congress, the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, Seventh Day Adventists, the National Council of Churches, the National Association of Evangelicals, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The plaintiffs sought to have the Court declare that the administration had unconstitutionally granted to the Roman Catholic faith privileges that were being denied to other establishments of religion.
On May 7, 1985 the suit was thrown out by Chief Judge John Fullam. Judge Fullam ruled that district courts do not have jurisdiction to intervene in “foreign policy decisions” of the executive branch. Bishop James W. Malone, President of the U.S. Catholic Conference, praised Judge Fullam’s decision, noting that it settled “not a religious issue but a public policy question.”
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