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.

Faith reflection offered on climate change

reflection_environment_2009_120World Environment Day is June 5 and the Carmelite NGO, or nongovernmental organization, is asking people to pray for the environment and climate change that day.

The purpose, explained Carmelite Father William Harry in a brief press release, is to call attention to “the spiritual challenge of the ecological crisis.”

To help us in prayer, the order has prepared a booklet, “A Day of Prayer — a Faith Reflection on Climate Change,” to be used not just  June 5 but any time.  It’s a free download at