Conservative media outlets and former Republican officials falsely accused President Barack Obama on Wednesday of instigating a closure of the U.S. embassy to the Vatican -- when in fact the embassy is moving closer to Vatican City.


Think Progress reported that outlets like the Drudge Report and the Daily Caller accused Obama's administration of "insulting" Catholics.

But in reality, the embassy's move in 2015 will fulfill a plan developed during George W. Bush's presidency, when a new building was acquired adjacent to the compound in Rome where the U.S. Embassy to Italy is located. A State Department official said in a statement that the move will save the U.S. $1.4 million a year in operational costs.

"There is no reduction in diplomatic staff, there's no reduction in ambassadors, there's no reduction in mission. There is simply a reduction in overhead," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Talking Points Memo reported that the National Republican Senatorial Committee set up a website criticizing the White House over the perceived closure.

"This is just the latest anti-religion pursuit of this Administration, a slap in the face to Catholic-Americans around the country that weakens America’s position as a global leader," the webpage stated.

Despite this, former U.S. Ambassador James Nicholson was quoted as telling the National Catholic Reporter that the new facility turns the Vatican embassy "into a stepchild of the embassy to Italy."

However, a Vatican official downplayed the potential impact, telling CNN it was "an exception, not the ideal, but not the end of the world."

[Image via Agence France-Presse]