In March 2003, just before the Iraq war, Condolezza Rice met with a special envoy from the Vatican Rome and told them that the Bush administration didn’t care about the views of the late Pope John Paul II on the immorality of its planned military actions in Iraq.
Ties between the Washington and the Vatican were plunged in further disarray after criticism from the Pope that Iraqi Christians under the new Iraqi Constitution is “unacceptable”.
The bad blood between the Pope and Rice were made public after it was revealed in an Italian newspaper that the Pope refused a meeting request from the US Secretary of State to discuss Iraq.
BBC News, which appears to have confirmed the Italian paper's story, says: "Instead of meeting the Pope, Ms Rice had to make do with a telephone conversation with the Vatican's number two, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was visiting the U.S. during August on other business."
AFP reported that the reply "'illustrated the divergence of view' between the Vatican and the White House about the 'initiatives of the Bush administration in the Middle East.'"
Vatican confirms pope's UN visit in spring, other stops undecided
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI plans to travel to the United States in the spring to address the United Nations, but other possible U.S. stops have not been confirmed, the Vatican said Wednesday.
Benedict accepted an invitation from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and will address the General Assembly.
American bishops and the Vatican also have been discussing other possible stops, including Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington. But only the spring visit to New York has been confirmed, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman.
A stop in Boston would send a particularly poignant message of papal concern over the clerical sex abuse scandal, which erupted there in 2002 and forced its archbishop, Cardinal Bernard Law, to resign in disgrace.
The planning for the trip is delicate because it would come during the presidential election campaigns.
The trip is Benedict's first international visit planned for 2008. In July, Benedict is due to attend World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia. Later in the year, plans to visit the shrine in Lourdes, France, which in 2008 marks the 150th anniversary of the apparition of the Madonna.
Pope John Paul II visited the United States seven times during his nearly 27-year pontificate, the last in 1999.
The 80-year-old Benedict completed his seventh foreign trip as pope earlier this month with a three-day visit to Austria.