According to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Pope Benedict XVI has invited the 83-year-old former adviser to Richard Nixon to be a political consultant, and Kissinger has accepted.
Quoting an “authoritative” diplomatic source at the Holy See, the paper reported Nov. 4 that the Nobel laureate was asked at a recent private audience with the Holy Father to form part of a papal “advisory board” on foreign and political affairs.
If true, there is speculation on which issues Kissinger would advise the Holy Father. Relations with Islam, Palestine and Israel, and Iraq — Kissinger has been critical of the conduct of the war but opposes a quick withdrawal — are likely to be high up on the agenda.
It has also been speculated that, in view of the Muslim hostility to Benedict’s recent Regensburg speech, Kissinger might provide advice on dealing with an increasingly fractious Islamic world.
Furthermore, like the Pope, Kissinger has analyzed the challenges of globalization and might provide advice in this area as well.
“The idea [of his appointment] sounds like a good one,” said veteran Vatican journalist Sandro Magister. “But so would it also be to consult other experts on geopolitics with different orientations.”
Aside from the fact that the Pope has in the past and will continue to call in outside experts for their opinions (or their witty repartee over dinner), this mention of a papal advisory board perhaps says something as well about how Benedict XVI feels about the experts of the Secretariat of State.