The newly nominated U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, Miguel H. Diaz, a superb choice: a Latino Catholic (a recognition of the enormous influence of Latinos in the U.S. church), a professor of theology with terrific credentials (St. Thomas, Notre Dame, Collegeville) and a Rahner scholar to boot. (At least he and the Holy Father can have some lively Rahner-von Balthasar discussions.) The choice is also refreshing: the nomination is clearly going to a talented and faithful Catholic (like Mary Ann Glendon), rather than a straight political appointee, and it is also going to someone who clearly understands not only the Vatican but also Catholic theology at the highest levels. Professor Diaz has also taught at a regional seminary, which means he's been vetted by at least a few bishops.
Here's the link to the announcement from St. John's College in Collegeville, Minn. An excerpt: “Professor Miguel Diaz is a skilled Trinitarian theologian who is passionate both as a teacher and a scholar,” said Abbot John Klassen, OSB, of Saint John’s Abbey. “He is a strong proponent of the necessity of the Church to become deeply and broadly multi-cultural, to recognize and appreciate the role that culture plays in a living faith. Born in Havana, Cuba, he is a leading Hispanic theologian in United States.
And from AP Eric Gorski has the story. "Diaz was far from the most visible — or controversial — Catholic to campaign for Obama. Douglas Kmiec, a Catholic law professor and former Reagan administration lawyer, was targeted by conservative Catholics and denied Communion by one priest for his support for Obama. Kmiec, who was mentioned as a possible Vatican envoy, applauded the choice of Diaz on Wednesday, calling him "a gifted theologian and a natural teacher. And his love for the faith is unquestioned." Cathleen Kaveny, a Notre Dame law and theology professor who also served on the Obama campaign's Catholic advisory committee, said it was significant Obama chose a theologian and a representative of one of the fastest growing demographics in the U.S. church, Hispanics. "He is not a big donor, he's not a big politician," she said. "He's someone very knowledgeable about the Catholic tradition and Catholic theology. What you see is President Obama taking seriously not just Catholicism as a political force but as an intellectual force."
And the official White House announcement:
Miguel H. Díaz, Nominee for Ambassador to the Holy See
Dr. Miguel Díaz is a Professor of Theology at St. John's University and the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota. He is the co-editor of the book "From the Heart of Our People: Explorations in Catholic Systematic Theology" and author of "On Being Human: U.S. Hispanic and Rahnerian Perspectives", named "Best Book of the Year" by the Hispanic Theological Initiative at Princeton Theological Seminary. Dr. Díaz taught Religious Studies and Theology at Barry University, the University of Dayton and the University of Notre Dame. From 2001 to 2003, he taught and served as Academic Dean at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida. He is a Board Member of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA) and Past President of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS). Dr. Díaz holds a B.A. from St. Thomas University and a M.A. and PhD in Theology from the University of Notre Dame.
James Martin, SJ