New ambassador pick is theology professor

ANAHEIM, Calif. — We just got word that Miguel Diaz, a theology professor at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., is President Obama’s pick as the United States ambassador to the Holy See.

The press release from St. John’s:

Miguel Diaz, Ph.D., who serves on the graduate faculty of the School of TheologySeminary of Saint John’s University and undergraduate faculty of the Department of Theology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, has been nominated as the United States Ambassador to the Holy See (Vatican).

President Barack Obama made the announcement on May 27, 2009.

Diaz has served on the SOT, SJU and CSB faculty since 2004. He is chairperson of the SOT’s Multicultural Committee; served as co-chairperson of the CSB/SJU Intercultural Directions Council; and, along with his wife, Marian Diaz, D. Min., established the Changing Faces: Intercultural Ministry and Hospitality series.

“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.”

He earned his bachelor’s degree from St. Thomas University in Miami, Fla., and his master‘s and doctorate in theology from the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind. He taught previously at Barry University, Miami Shores, Fla.; St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, Boynton Beach, Fla.; University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio; and the University of Notre Dame. He also served as the academic dean at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary and is fluent in Italian, Spanish and French.

“The College of Saint Benedict is enormously proud that Miguel has been nominated by President Obama for this important post,” said MaryAnn Baenninger, president of the College of Saint Benedict. “Miguel is a highly-respected theologian and scholar, and an excellent teacher. Most importantly, he has a deep commitment to Catholic social justice and to inclusiveness in the Catholic Church. He truly lives a life of faith. He is the ideal candidate for this post.”

UPDATE: One of our reporters interviewed Diaz on Inauguration Day in Washington. You can read the nominee’s comments in this story by scrolling down to the 27th paragraph.

9 Responses

  1. What about the commitment to the Catechism? We are a church that is based on teachings that aren’t always demonstrated by American Catholics – the president of Notre Dame and Professor Kmiec … as well as a slew of Catholic politicians … are examples of this lack of acting in a manner consistent for a Catholic in communion with the Holy See.

  2. Miguel Diaz also was one of 26 Catholic professors who supported the nomination of Kathleen Sebelius to head HHS. Sebelius – a dissident Catholic herself, has been publicly rebuked by Archbishop Naumann of Kansas City and asked to refrain from Holy Communion for her part in protecting partial birth abortion.

    Obama is going out of his way to appoint a particular kind of Catholic to prominent posts. If he is going to appoint a Catholic, can he not find one whose personal views on key moral issues is not at odds with the US bishops, and ultimately with the Church?

    A pseudo-Church is growing with Catholics who hold dissenting views being given high-visibility positions. The scandal these people create, is magnified by the nature of those positions.

    I pray our bishops will be graced with the kind of holy boldness that hindered “strange teachings” from taking hold in the days of the Church Fathers.

    Pray for our bishops!

  3. He also signed a letter in support of pro-abort Catholic Sebelius. Guess he saw no problem with someone who was associated with Dr. Tiller and who was not allowed to present herself for Communion because of her abortion votes.

  4. I’m hope the Pope will not accept Obama’s nomination. Miguel is Catholic but that doesn’t mean anything , if he doesn’t follow the church teaching, he is no different then Sebelius pro abortion.

  5. Dr. Diaz, his impressive scholarly vitae and position as a theologian in a Catholic college not withstanding, has provided formal support for Obama and Sebelius, the two prominent leaders of the pro-abortion cause in America. Diaz stands astride a glaringly obvious logical and normative contradiction, at once promoting the careers of aggressive pro-abortion politician and also holding a pro-life position. There is no epistemology, whether classical, Thomist or phenomenological/existential that can unite the first principles of these positions. Hope, to put a fine point on it, is not an attitude that allows us to abandoning reason.

    One is tempted to conclude that Diaz is intellectually a Cartesian Modern, and that he has abandoned both experience as a ground of being and reason as a way to understand reality. For the Modern, the mere symbol of the mind creates reality. So Obama’s words and respectful gestures create the certainty of existence, while his actions that provide the means for killing millions of actual people are just bumps in the road to Utopia.

    Dr. Diaz’ work was done at Notre Dame. It was there also that Obama’s strategy to divide the Church and weaken her monolithic shield against the culture of death was recently cleverly promoted.

    It is with burning sorrow that we are forced to admit that the school’s most impressive and faithful Holy Cross, Catholic heritage has been suborned to ends that contradict natural law, the scripture, the dictates of reason and formally support the culture of death.

  6. Diane, good point that non-orthodox beliefs, attitudes and actions (like Dr. Diaz formally supporting Pres. Obama and Sec. Sebelius) do not spring from a vacuum, but arise from the fortification of a significant culture of dissent that is tolerated and promoted in the Catholic academy, media, private associations and in pastoral structures.

    This powerful, elite formal and informal network did not arise as whole cloth, but began, within the living memory of some of us, as a reaction to Humane Vite and other “narrow” instruction on sexual norms in the 1960s. At that time, the hierarchy chose a diverse unity over a schism.

    Pope Benedict is reported to believe that in these matters, “pruned, (the Church) it grows stronger.” But there is a half century of pruning to do, Let us be hopeful that the work has begun.

  7. This is still the latest in a series of high-profile frontal attacks on the Church by states and international figures, e.g., former UK Prime Minister and alleged Catholic convert Tony Blair attacking the Holy Father on homosexuality in the press, the wife of French President Sarkozy publicly berating the Church and the Holy Father on condoms, and the Spanish legislature introducing a censure of the Holy Father over condoms.

    Like Obama’s Notre Dame address, the Diaz appointment as Ambassador to the Holy See is a public provocation to divide the Church and promote heresy and dissent as “Catholic”.

    The time for words and statements by bishops and others in authority is long past. The Holy Father and his Secretary of State need to act now to refuse the Diaz appointment in no uncertain terms.

  8. I was a student at the college where Prof. Diaz teaches in the 1980s. I attended many a Liberation Theology type speaker presentation put on by the Government Dept at St. John’s. It was a very, very hot topic at the time. Of course we college students were all for that type of theology. Over the years I have read and come to understand Pope John Paul II’s and Pope Benedict’s teachings and warnings about this theology. I do not know that Prof. Diaz still teaches this in his classes, but if that is true it would be interesting to see how it matches what the two most recent Popes have taught. Also, I do not understand how a Catholic theology professor rationalizes promoting a politician that in his campaign promises and actions on becoming President of the United States holds beliefs and advances laws so completely at odds with what the Catholic Church teaches in regards to protecting human life at all stages and at all costs. The United States Catholic Bishops have stated that the issue of protecting the sanctity of human life is the prime issue to be examined by Catholics in their political lives.

  9. There seems to be some idea that Diaz positions as a Catholic theologian and as a Democrat Ambassador need to be coherent. But most Catholic liberals long ago abandoned integrity of faith and morals, scheming rather to control positions of power in academia from which they can snipe at the Bishops as the seek to bring the teaching of the Church to the modern world. In the past, professors such as McBrien, Curran, and Schussler-Fiorenza would publicly contest the Bishops teaching, claiming to be better scholars than the Bishops, and hence closer to the truth. This didn’t work since scholarship in any field is always highly contested, and it was simply not possible to maintain such a simpleminded stance as “we know better”. The Bishops simply produced their own scholarship and under John Paul II and Benedict XVI the scholarship of the Bishops and faithful theologians has bested the liberals on their own fields. So nowadays liberal scholars are much more circumspect. They contest not the teachings outright, but their implementations or understandings, leading them to the same dissenting positions as before, but without the losing, foolish stance. That’s how Diaz can be a Catholic theologian and still endorse an execrable politico like Sebelius. His true commitment is not to the teaching of the Church, but to the political winds of academia, which for the past 100 years have blown from the Left. Fortunately, within the lives of the faithful very few listen to these marginally Catholic intellectuals.

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