U.S. Still Without Vatican Ambassador as Conclave Begins

Sunday, 10 Mar 2013 03:25 PM

By John Gizzi

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U.S. Catholics are beginning to wonder why the position of U.S. ambassador to the Vatican remains vacant, even as the College of Cardinals is set to meet Tuesday to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

The position has been vacant for months, with rumors mounting that the Obama administration's stand on abortion, which differs sharply from the Vatican policy, makes it difficult to find a practicing Catholic who will take the job.

The previous U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, Miguel Humberto Diaz, resigned in November to return to his position as theologian at the University of Dayton in Ohio.

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The National Catholic Reporter reported in January that two names were “making the rounds” to replace Diaz: Stephen Schneck of The Catholic University of America and Nicholas Cafardi of Duquesne University.

Both were members of the president’s “Catholics for Obama” reelection team. Another contender is Ken Hackett, according to NCR, the former president of Catholic Relief Services.

The eventual nominee will have to pass muster with a Catholic hierarchy that is at odds with the president on sexual and reproductive issues.

A Vatican official told Catholic News Agency, “from the steps Obama has taken in the last year, it would seem that he is trying to diminish church influence.”


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