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.
- 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.