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Parallel Empires Book presentation with the author
Massimo Franco

The Italian Cultural Institute is pleased to invite you to the book presentation: Parallel Empires, The Vatican and the United States. Two Centuries of Alliance and Conflict, by Massimo Franco.

The history of the turbulent relationship between the United States and the Holy See, recounted and analyzed by Italian journalist and Vatican insider Massimo Franco in Parallel Empires (New York, Doubleday, Random House, 2009, translation by Roland Flamini), will be the subject of a discussion panel moderated by the Italian journalist Ennio Caretto. With the participation, together with the author and translator, of Dr. Lucio Caracciolo, director of the magazine Limes; Dr. John L. Esposito, Professor of Religion and International Affairs, Georgetown University; Amb. Thomas P. Melady, Senior Diplomat in Residence, Institute of World Politics; R. James Nicholson, former US Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

H.E. the Ambassador of Italy to the United States, Giovanni Castellaneta, will open the discussion panel.

Drawing on unique access to the archives of the Holy See and a range of sources both in Washington, D.C. and Rome, Parallel Empires charts the path of U.S.-Vatican relations to reveal the dramatic religious and political tensions that have shaped their dealings and our world. The book also details the most recent developments of this relationship, including the contemporary disagreements over the Iraq War and the engagement with the Islamic world, and the Papacy of Benedict XVI. MASSIMO FRANCO writes a daily column for Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading newspaper. He has been a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkley, and is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Translator ROLAND FLAMINI reported from Rome for Time magazine in the 1980s, with a focus on the Vatican. This event is presented in collaboration with Mondadori, Random House, New York University, and Georgetown University, Washington D.C.


From Publishers Weekly
This study is haunted by the great unanswered question of U.S. relations with Catholicism's tiny citadel—why bother having any at all? For much of its existence, the author notes, a virulently anti-Catholic America didn't bother, and it wasn't until 1984 that Ronald Reagan appointed America's first ambassador to the Vatican. Franco, a columnist for Corriere della Sera, devotes most of his attention to the last three decades, when John Paul II's anticommunism and the emergence of conservative Catholics as a cornerstone of the Republican base raised the Vatican's profile in American foreign policy. Franco susses out harmonies and dissonances in the current relationship: while the Vatican and the Bush administration line up on social issues like abortion and gay marriage, John Paul II irritated the White House by speaking out against the Iraq War and other American adventures, fearing they would nourish global Christianophobia. Franco's is a nuanced, informative look at this relationship, but his styling of the Vatican and U.S. as the West's two parallel empires overstates a marginal dimension of world affairs. (Jan. 20)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Advance Praise for Parallel Empires
“Massimo Franco’s Parallel Empires fills a void in the history of the relations between the Vatican and the United States with an original, accurate, and well-informed book. He shows a deep understanding and knowledge not only of U.S. politics, but of the Vatican as well: a double competence which is a quite rare gift.” —Pio Cardinal Laghi, former Papal Nuncio to the United States

“Massimo Franco’s work, burnished by superb research (and unusual access to the Vatican Archives), exposes two centuries of mutual suspicion between a centuries-old moral superpower and a sovereign infant grown to superpower status. It is a must read for ‘Vaticanistas’ and those who track the ascent of the Catholic Church’s relevance in American affairs.” —R. James Nicholson, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See

“As a former Ambassador to the Holy See, I consider Parallel Empires a fundamental tool for analyzing U.S.-Vatican relations. It is an intriguing and vivid fresco, depicting the ways Catholic culture was shaped by American society and how they’ve grown together.” —Francis Rooney, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See

“With intelligence and intellectual curiosity Massimo Franco tells the history of relations between the Holy See and the United States of America. We must congratulate him for such a study. The reader will discover that if there have been points of friction, they have more often been over the means for achieving shared goals rather than the goals themselves.” —Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue

“While the ‘big’ U.S. embassy in Rome throws better parties, it’s the ‘little’ embassy to the Holy See where all the action is taking place. Massimo Franco does a great job of getting inside and showing how relations work—and sometimes don’t.” —Greg Burke, Rome correspondent, Fox News

 “The Holy See and the United States exercise two very different kinds of influence on world affairs, but each in its own way has a real ability to shape human events. Parallel Empires is a wonderfully intriguing look behind the scenes at two hundred years of complex, sometimes positive and sometimes difficult Vatican-U.S. relations. For anyone interested in drilling down beneath the daily headlines of world diplomacy, this is a must read.” —Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Denver.

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