President Obama names theologian Miguel H. Diaz U.S. ambassador to the Vatican

In the same week of his nomination of a Hispanic Catholic for the Supreme Court of the United States, President Obama has finally named Havana-born 45 year old Miguel H. Diaz, an associate professor of theology at St. John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota, to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican. Eric Gorski (Associated Press) reports:

In an interview with Catholic News Service at Obama’s inauguration, Diaz said he was looking forward “to moving beyond the politics of fear to the politics of hope.” He said Obama was “committed to working” with people who defend “life in the womb” and deeply respects people who hold positions he does not agree with.

“Wherever we can, we should advance life at all stages,” Diaz said.

Reached at his home Wednesday, Diaz read a brief statement expressing gratitude for the opportunity and saying, “I wish to be a diplomatic bridge between our nation and the Holy See, and if confirmed by the U.S. Senate, I will continue the work of my predecessors and build on 25 years of excellent relations with the Holy See.”

[...]

The son of a waiter and a data-entry operator, Diaz was the first person in his family to attend college. He taught religious studies and theology at Barry University, the University of Dayton and Notre Dame. From 2001 to 2003, he was academic dean at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Fla.

Diaz is fluent in English, Spanish and Italian. He is past president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States, and a father of four.

Mr. Diaz has postponed responding to inquiries on his specific positions on issues until his confirmation hearing. However, Gorski notes as a possible sticking point his support for the controversial nomination of Kathleen Sebelius for Health and Human Services.

Related

  • Miguel Diaz’ Faculty Webpage Saint John’s University (MN)
  • Fr. James Martin SJ, describes Diaz as “a professor of theology with terrific credentials (St. Thomas, Notre Dame, Collegeville) and a Rahner scholar to boot”.
  • Abbot John Klassen of St. John’s College heralds him as “a skilled Trinitarian theologian who is passionate both as a teacher and a scholar”:

    “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.”

  • From the National Catholic Reporter, Michael Sean Winters gushes:

    Diaz is a pro-life Democrat so his mere presence at the Vatican will disprove the contention of some conservatives that there is no such thing as a pro-life Catholic [Democrat?]. If he can articulate the President’s commitment to reducing the abortion rate, those in the Vatican who appear disposed to like the President will have more ammunition when Deal Hudson, George Weigel and Co. attack L’Osservatore Romano for their pro-Obama line.

  • In addition to his serving as President of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States, Diaz is an active member of the Catholic Theological Society of America and on the speakers bureau of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.
  • Dr. Díaz’s publications include: From the Heart of our People (co-edited with O. Espín) and On Being Human: U.S. Hispanic and Rahnerian Perspectives.

41 Responses to President Obama names theologian Miguel H. Diaz U.S. ambassador to the Vatican

  • Given who’s doing the applauding among Catholic pundits and journals, we can obtain some sense of what kind of service Diaz will provide to the Obama administration. (Likewise I expect our readers will be sharply divided as well).

    Personally, Diaz’s advisory role to the Obama campaign, his service to a professed “non-partisan” but actively pro-Obama organization ‘Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good’, and his explicit support of Kathleen Sebelius’ nomination for HHS is disconcerting — howbeit not at all surprising.

    In what I think would appeal to various members of Vox Nova, Diaz, in a keynote address for a conference on intercultural ministry, highlighted “the identity of Jesus, the Galilean, as someone who engages in border-crossings for the sake of transforming and creating inclusive communities within the Church and society.” ;-)

  • “the identity of Jesus, the Galilean, as someone who engages in border-crossings for the sake of transforming and creating inclusive communities within the Church and society.”

    That’s straight Rahnerian. Fr. Karl Rahner called it “anonymous Christian”.

    Nice.

  • “the identity of Jesus, the Galilean, as someone who engages in border-crossings for the sake of transforming and creating inclusive communities within the Church and society.”

    That’s straight Rahnerian. Fr. Karl Rahner called it “anonymous Christian”.

    That quote from Diaz actually bears little resemblance to Rahner either in general or with reference to his notion of “anonymous Christians.” “Border-crossing” language is post-Rahner. You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

    I’m curious, Blosser, what precise problem you have with the quote you’re slinging? You’re not getting back into your cut-and-paste quote slinging again, are you? I find it disappointing, too, that you’re lowering yourself to guilt-by-association judgments. Lately I have thought you’re above that nonsense. I guess you’re not.

  • I’m curious, Blosser, what precise problem you have with the quote you’re slinging?

    No need to get your panties in a bunch. I was merely alluding to our frequent delightful discussions we had on VN over immigration. (Didn’t you notice the wink and a smile?)

  • You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Your Christian virtue glows with every word you type.

  • I did but I also assumed you were trying making a point but am unclear what that point was. What were you “alluding to”?

  • Seriously, apart from his support of Sebelius’ nomination, advisory role to Obama and work with Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, not much otherwise that stands out as objectionable. Definitely a ‘dark horse’ nominee.

    Overall, a relatively “safe”, liberal run-of-the-mill theologian who’ll, together with Sotomayor, help garner the Hispanic vote for Obama’s second term.

    I wonder if he’ll tangle at all with Archbishop Burke in Rome? =)

  • I did but I also assumed you were trying making a point but am unclear what that point was. What were you “alluding to”?

    I confess when I read his address summarized as “Jesus, the Galilean, as someone who engages in border-crossings for the sake of transforming and creating inclusive communities within the Church and society” the (admittedly) knee-jerk impression I had was “oh, great — another liberal theologian’s paean to Jesus in the context of the national debate over illegal immigration’ — quickly followed by ‘Vox Nova would SO totally love this.’ =)

    All in good humor, of course.

    I am actually curious about the content of ‘Hispanic-Latino theology’. Myself being an avid proponent of dead white male heterosexist theology of the Ratzingerian variety. Perhaps you can enlighten me someday, over a beer.

  • Perhaps you can enlighten me someday, over a beer.

    Count me in. I’d be interested in hearing his views over a beer as well!

  • I’d explain to you gentlemen the mysteries of Lawyer Theology, but I’d be compelled to charge you $300.00 an hour while doing so!

  • This strikes me as being similar to Sotomayor appointment – an Obama pick is of course likely to be bad, but this could have been a lot worse. In fact, I’d say there are some real positives to this one.

    1.) The guy won’t be teaching.

    2.) Having more exposure to the Vatican than the narrow clique of enlightened liberationists of academe he’s likely to learn that if anything can be called multicultural it’s the Catholic Church.

    3.) With a transparent and meaningless defense like, “Obama was “committed to working” with people who defend “life in the womb” and deeply respects people who hold positions he does not agree with.”, he’ll reveal much about the nature of his boss – and himself.

  • As I mentioned in the other thread who cares about his Theology. He is the United States Envoy he is not going to be giving talks on Latino Theology at the Embassy

    I am more worried if he is competent for other matters. THis is a muc much less profile name than the United States generally sends and most have had some substantial poltical experience or were old State Dept hands

  • Why don’t you guys just look up his books and check them out?

    Latino/a theology is a very lively part of Catholic theology these days. It shares some concerns with liberation theology but is more about engaging culture than politics (that’s a very very broad generalization though).

    I have the collection of essays he edited w/ Orlando Espin (he has an essay in it) and another book edited by Espin which contains another Diaz essay. Maybe I’ll blog about his work at VN.

    In theologies of culture (and postcolonial theologies), the term “border-crossing” often has so little to do with literal crossing of borders that that never occurred to me, Christopher. It has to do more with transgression of societal norms, such as Jesus’ association with “sinners,” women, Samaritans, etc.

  • Re: “border crossings”

    It was in JEST, Michael. Good grief.

  • No one’s remarking on the fact that we now HAVE an ambassador. Regardless of who he is (I’m not amazingly encouraged or discouraged; he sounds like a carbon-copy Kmiec to me with his parroting of the “politics of hope” garbage, but I think I’ll hold off final judgment…then again, Iafrate owns one of his books-and that’s a joke), America now has one, setting up the stage for an Obama meeting with the pope in Rome this summer that a week ago had looked dead in the water.

    With the rejects, the Vatican made its point to Obama and now begins on trying to have a conversation with this administration. Indeed, the Vatican did win on the point of having a pro-lifer in the post, even if the pro-lifer supports pro-choicers. This is something that shouldn’t be understated in Vatican/US relations. Furthermore, the opportunity for the man of the politics of hope to meet the man who wrote “Saved by Hope” is a interesting event, one that might have important ramifications for American Catholicism and Obama himself.

    Indeed, Obama’s about to get the dialogue he requested at Notre Dame. We’ll see how he and his supporters like it.

  • “Indeed, the Vatican did win on the point of having a pro-lifer in the post, even if the pro-lifer supports pro-choicers.”

    I respectfully submit that this is a contradiction in terms. For example, would we take seriously a statement of someone who claimed to be against racial prejudice and yet actively campaigned for a racist candidate? A pro-lifer who votes for pro-aborts is in no meaningful sense a pro-lifer.

  • …parroting of the “politics of hope” garbage…

    Has it ever occurred to you that Barack Obama does not hold the copyright on “politics of hope” language, and that such images might be very central to theologies coming out of marginalized communities and not be “parroting” at all? Benedict’s second encyclical is about hope too, for Christ’s sake. You going to dismiss him — and the Vatican for that matter who have been very positive about Obama’s “hope” language — as “parroting” just a bunch of “garbage”?

    I suppose that if you’re a young male college student attending an expensive Jesuit university you might not really “get” the idea that the vast majority of human beings on this planet truly need “hope” language and a “politics of hope.” Perhaps the only thing you “hope” for is that your school wins the big game. There’s a bigger world out there, Michael Denton.

  • Obama isn’t the pope Catholic Anarchist, much, I suspect, to your regret.

  • Obama isn’t the pope Catholic Anarchist, much, I suspect, to your regret.

    What do you mean by this? Please elaborate.

  • Quite simple really Catholic Anarchist. When the Pope speaks about hope he is speaking about our hope in Christ. When Obama speaks about “hope and change” he is merely repeating a campaign mantra which gulled people into voting for a man who is well on his way to wrecking our economy for at least a decade, to promoting a pro-abort agenda, and to engaging in foreign policy fecklessness that will leave this country open to attack. To compare the Pope’s Hope with the snakeoil being sold by Obama is ludicrous.

  • I see. Well what you said in your last comment about the differences between various visions of “hope” is painfully obvious.

    So the comment about me wishing Obama was the Pope was just another one of your screwed up nonsensical comments to make you feel better about yourself? Judging from the statistical frequency of the subjects of your posts, you must think Reagan was a former pontiff.

    And how dare you place the economy above abortion in your list of concerns about Obama. Shows where YOUR priorities lie. You care nothing for the unborn.

  • Donald:

    I respectfully submit that this is a contradiction in terms. For example, would we take seriously a statement of someone who claimed to be against racial prejudice and yet actively campaigned for a racist candidate? A pro-lifer who votes for pro-aborts is in no meaningful sense a pro-lifer.

    I agree in the sense that I find it difficult to justify an Obama vote with a coherent pro-life ethic, and I think people unreasonably diminished the importance of his abortion stands and overinflated his commitment to other social justice issues.

    However, just b/c Diaz is not as firm in pro-life as he should be, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t count at all. The Vatican’s preference of that position over the personal pro-life but public pro-choice positions of Kennedy and especially Joe Biden is a clear signal, and the Obama capitulation to that is certainly noteworthy.

    Diaz could be better, but like Sotomayor he’s probably as good as we could have hoped for.

    Iafrate:

    Has it ever occurred to you that Barack Obama does not hold the copyright on “politics of hope” language, and that such images might be very central to theologies coming out of marginalized communities and not be “parroting” at all?

    The quote he gave above: “to moving beyond the politics of fear to the politics of hope.” is a copy of Obama’s exact phrasing. Diaz is not uplifting the marginalized; he’s playing suck-up to Obama. Give me a break.

    Benedict’s second encyclical is about hope too, for Christ’s sake.

    Really? I wouldn’t have known. Not like I talked about that same encyclical in my comment or anything. I really just get all my Catholicism from Hannity and Scalia; I don’t bother mentioning encyclicals.

    You going to dismiss him — and the Vatican for that matter who have been very positive about Obama’s “hope” language — as “parroting” just a bunch of “garbage”?

    I love the continuing vague abstract references to the Vatican. Either way, just b/c the Vatican is hopeful that Obama takes his politics of hope into a truly hopeful vision for America, I’m pretty sure the Vatican isn’t too thrilled about Catholic theologians endorsing Obama’s positions as “the politics of hope.”

    Furthermore, I dismiss Obama’s politics as being truly hopefully

    I suppose that if you’re a young male college student attending an expensive Jesuit university you might not really “get” the idea that the vast majority of human beings on this planet truly need “hope” language and a “politics of hope.” Perhaps the only thing you “hope” for is that your school wins the big game. There’s a bigger world out there, Michael Denton.

    Where on earth did this diatribe against me come from? I agree that the world needs a philosophy of hope and I hope that a powerful member of that world hears it when he visits the Vatican. Obama’s politics do not hope in Christ; they hope in man/government and are doomed to fail. I would think as an anarchist and a strong critic of Americanism would have had strong reservations about associating Obama’s language of hope with the pope’s language of hope in the same way you have strong reservations about the language of sacrifice used on Memorial Day.

    I am going to ignore your snide attacks on my education and background. Suffice it to say you know precious little about that area or why I went to school where I went or how my finances work, etc. Such is not your business, and your laughable caricatures of me need to cease. Besides, having glanced at Wheeling Jesuit’s financial aid calculator ($12,195 tuition and fees per semester at minimum), I don’t quite understand why you think you have room to condemn others on the subject of expensive Jesuit education.

  • Besides, having glanced at Wheeling Jesuit’s financial aid calculator ($12,195 tuition and fees per semester at minimum), I don’t quite understand why you think you have room to condemn others on the subject of expensive Jesuit education.

    I’m not criticizing you for where you go to school. I’m criticizing you for your narrow worldview.

  • I’m not criticizing you for where you go to school.

    Interesting. Because when discussing the US Ambassador to the Vatican, randomly throwing out sentences like: “I suppose that if you’re a young male college student attending an expensive Jesuit university you might not really “get” the idea…” and “Perhaps the only thing you “hope” for is that your school wins the big game.” sounds like you’re criticizing me for where I go to school.

    I’m criticizing you for your narrow worldview.

    Fine. You use criticism of my education as a lead-in to criticism of my “narrow worldview,” narrow worldview defined as not buying Obama’s politics of hope as being particularly hopeful from a Catholic point of view.

    Either way, you had no business taking a personal shot at me like that. I didn’t take one at you.

  • “So the comment about me wishing Obama was the Pope was just another one of your screwed up nonsensical comments to make you feel better about yourself?”

    No Catholic Anarchist. I believe that your Leftist politics is effectively your religion as the title of your website Catholic Anarchy indicates.

    As for my priorities, all one has to do is to google Donald R. McClarey and abortion to see what has always been the issue of most concern to me, or to read the well over 100 posts that I have on this blog which deal with abortion.

  • Michael Denton,

    When the Catholic Anarchist starts personally attacking you that is because he lost the argument and is resorting to the secularist left tactic of politics of personal destruction. As Donald says he is clearly all politics and no charity.

  • Michael I.,

    Will you pay for the beer?

  • tito[.]benedictus[@]gmail[.]com

  • Tito – Please email me. I’d seriously like to have a conversation with you, if you can tolerate it.

  • Michael I.,

    No, you’re not banned.

    Most, if not all, of us like you Michael. We have enough patience to keep in dialogue with you.

  • We have enough patience to keep in dialogue with you.

    Inspired by that Obama speech or something? ;)

  • Hi Friends,

    Your interesting conversations prove to me that no matter who the democrats pick for any public post, people among you will oppose him/her because he/she is a democrat, not because he/she is not pro-life. May I ask you a few questions?
    In your view, can democrats go to heaven?,
    Is the Catholic Church and the Republican Party the same organization?, can republicans go to hell?, can Obama overcome purgatory?
    Thanks, I’m interested in your answers.

  • Tony,

    Your interesting conversations prove to me that no matter who the democrats pick for any public post, people among you will oppose him/her because he/she is a democrat, not because he/she is not pro-life. May I ask you a few questions?
    In your view, can democrats go to heaven?,
    Is the Catholic Church and the Republican Party the same organization?, can republicans go to hell?, can Obama overcome purgatory?
    Thanks, I’m interested in your answers.

    You may not realize it, but a substantial number of the posters here are pro-life Democrats. Now, I as a pro-lifer who leans Republican, can’t for the life of me understand why they are so fixated on the Dems, but I don’t question their pro-life bona fides — because of their words and actions.

    Your questions are, to be blunt, idiotic, and beneath any legitimate discussion.

    Let me ask you this, have you ever opposed any politician because they are not opposed to the legal murder of the unborn?

  • I am originally from New Mexico, as far as I can see, Hispanics have always been a large voting block for the Democrats, just one of those things.

    My first thought when looking at this, was the way, Pope John Paul II went to Cuba. Sometimes, it’s not easy going but it’s things that need to be done. I don’t call this appointment but that was what I first thought of.

    I would venture furthermore, that if people say “Oh dear, we Catholics voted in favor of Obama”, Obama and his cohorts I’m sure can look at the data and say as I did right after the election, a lot of the Catholics that voted for Obama were in fact, the Hispanics.

  • Daniel Ortega is one of the pillars of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. The Clash had an album called “Sandinista”: Is it true that Daniel Ortega banned bortions again in Nicaragua??

    Here is a good commentary I found coming out of Latin America on the topic. I really thought this was very well written seeing how Abortion is largely illegal in these countries.

    “USA Hypocrisy

    The hypocrisy of the USA is amazing–it promotes abortions for a device to try & spread its feminist colonialism–look at Brasil–where abortion are illegal–or even in NIcaragua–where Presidnt Daniel Ortega just banned abortions—infruiating usa feminists like Gloria Allreds & NOW etc–

    This USA man Tiller who killed many babys in aboritons–was similar to the famous Nazi–Dr Mengele–who was stated to have done abortions in his days as a fugitive–was Mengele a great “humanitarian” like Tiller?? People of South America remember that USA jewish feminist–Lori Berenson & her colonialist crimes–we reject such a disgrace

    The USA can please–keep the Allreds–Berensons–& Tillers–in the USA– we of the South American naitons are happy with our own cultures–without USA Tiller types trying to colonize –gracias por su bondad” – Lejos of XX

    http://www.usnews.com/blogs/erbe/2009/06/04/atlantic-monthly-essay-calls-tiller-murder-ok–that-is-crazy.html

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