The Rejected Ambassadors: The Plot Thickens

A couple weeks ago, Tito posted on the Washington Times report claiming the Vatican has rejected several candidates for the position of U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican. It appeared the report had been satisfactorily debunked by the Catholic News Service, which quoted a statement by Father Federico Lombardi to the effect that the rumors were unreliable. Now, however, the Times Online has received confirmation of the story from “Vatican insiders”. This confirmation reconciles the two statements to a certain extent: no candidates have been officially rejected, but apparently informal rejections have taken place. Ultimately, this type of story is of little significance, but it’s always interesting to watch the interaction of the Vatican and the media. Here are some excerpts from the Times Online story:

Caroline Kennedy, the Roman Catholic daughter of the assassinated President, has been rejected by the Vatican as the next US ambassador to the Holy See because of her liberal views on abortion, stem-cell research and same-sex marriage, according to Vatican insiders.

Andrea Tornielli, the biographer of Pope Benedict XVI, said that at least two other potential ambassadors put forward by President Obama have also been blocked because they did not share the Vatican’s views on “pro-life” issues. A Vatican spokesman said that no candidates had been formally submitted “and therefore it is not true that they have been rejected”.

Vatican sources said that there had been “informal soundings” over a replacement for Mary Ann Glendon, the outgoing US ambassador to the Holy See, who is a Harvard law professor, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and close to the Pope.

The Vatican hopes that the issue can be resolved before Mr Obama meets the Pope in the margins of the G8 summit to be held on the island of Sardinia in early July.

Raymond Flynn, a former US ambassador to the Vatican, told the Boston Herald that the views held by Ms Kennedy, 53, were “problematic”. “It’s imperative, it’s essential that the person who represents us to the Holy See be a person who has pro-life values,” he said.

Mr Obama was said to have wanted to reward Ms Kennedy for supporting his election. The other rejected nominees reportedly included Douglas Kmiec, professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University and a former legal adviser to Presidents Reagan and George Bush Sr, who urged American Catholics to vote for Mr Obama.

The full article is here.

h/t to Mirror of Justice.

8 Responses to The Rejected Ambassadors: The Plot Thickens

  1. John Henry

    The problems I have seen with this remain.We don’t really have the names of so-called Vatican officials saying things “unofficially,” but we do have names of those who have said nothing official has been done. Asking what a former ambassador thinks is not itself an answer, either. I don’t even see any Vatican official naming Caroline Kennedy (btw, I wouldn’t want her as ambassador, either). I just think this is still on the level of rumor and gossip until something substantial is shown.

  2. John Henry says:


    In this type of story, there will not be official confirmation because it’s not in the interest of any of the parties. If you think AC, and MOJ, and dotCommonweal, and First Things, etc. are all out of line in posting on this story, you are entitled to the view, but I think it’s a minority position. I wouldn’t have posted on it with only one source that had been contradicted, but at this point there seem to be a number of different sources corroborating it. While I think the story can be (and has been) overblown as a cheap partisan point-scoring opportunity, I think there is a legitimate issue at stake here: specifically, how is the process of appointing the next U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican going, and what does it tell us about the Vatican under Benedict XVI and the Obama Administration, respectively?

  3. I think we can discuss the process without naming names, and necessarily trying to read more into it than what the facts suggest. The facts only say that talks are being had, and names perhaps are being asked about, not why the names are being asked, nor what, if some objection has been given, it actually is, nor if it would be seen, if the person truly was pushed forward officially, that the unofficial suggestion would lead to official rejection. There are many factors involved here (and we must remember,the Vatican itself, in history, has often given quite bad ambassadors to other nations without it reflecting upon the Catholic Church as a whole, or even the Popes who had those ambassadors). It’s to me being turned into too much a political story, and goes beyond prudence. Maybe it is a minority view, but I stand by it.

  4. John Henry says:

    It’s to me being turned into too much a political story, and goes beyond prudence. Maybe it is a minority view, but I stand by it.

    Fair enough.

  5. M.Z. says:

    Speaking for myself, it appears to me there is one anonymous source that has gotten closer to the inner workings over the past year. He seems to be cited in a number of stories. If I were to be grossly speculative, I would guess the source is an assistant to one of the highly placed American officials. I have the one source theory, because the rumors eminate from the same reporters. I don’t put much credence in the source, because the source’s predictive value has been terrible. Specifically, I think the source is taking the head person’s opinion as policy and the head person isn’t involved in these particular areas.

  6. John Henry says:

    Obviously, your speculations are even harder to evaluate for accuracy than the reporting in question, which isn’t your fault, it’s just a fact. I will say that the Times Online article claims it is citing more than one source, and when reporters are willing to go on record with something, they usually have evaluated the credibility of the sources involved. They also have a strong incentive to get thing right, or their relationship and credibility with other potential sources within the hierarchy will be badly damaged. All of which is a long way of saying, you may be right, but where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.

  7. Gerard E. says:

    Unless/until Vatican media operations come into the 21st Century, we are left with rumors and insiders and buzzbuzzbuzz on these matters. Only states the tension between this administration and the Holy See. Besides- thought of Caroline as Ambassador makes me fraidy-scared. Too much likelihood of things going poof. All a reminder of title of trashy women’s novel/movie title- He’s Just Not That Into You.

  8. Tito Edwards says:

    Nonetheless, names have been proffered a the Vatican has expressed disinterest in certain candidates.

    Caroline Kennedy and Douglas Kmiec are rightly to be rejected for their antagonistic views in regards to abortion.

    I’m quite satisfied with what has come out.

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