Andrew Rabel’s interview with Ambassador Fischer

The Hon. Mr Tim Fischer with Mr Ikebal Patel, president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, at our Reception on Thursday April 23rd 2009

The Hon. Mr Tim Fischer with Mr Ikebal Patel, president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, at our Reception on Thursday April 23rd 2009

Intrepid Australian reporter/journalist, Andrew Rabel, has been in Rome for a few months (we caught up briefly when I was there in April) and has filed this interview with Australia’s Ambassador to the Holy See, the Hon. Mr Tim Fischer.

Cathy and I had the pleasure of meeting with Ambassador Fischer and his deputy Anne Giles during Holy Week in Rome. Tim is a real gentleman, and instantly puts you at ease. There is a lot of criticism of the cost (reportedly $3 million per annum) – a criticism that probably comes from underestimating the importance of the Holy See as a “soft power” (as Tim himself puts it in the interview). And there is another aspect to his mission in Europe – attention to Australia’s interests in regard to food security takes up a fair amount of his time, I understand.

Of course, from my point of view, one of his most important priorities is interfaith dialogue, and he certainly was a great help to us in this regard on our recent Joint Catholic Muslim Pilgrimage to Istanbul and Rome. While in Rome, he hosted our party at his residence, and invited a large number of curial and diplomatic staff from the Holy to meet with us, making sure that our intitiative did not go unnoticed on the ground.

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