WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 28, 2009 (Zenit.org).- President Barack Obama nominated a Cuban-born theologian as ambassador of the United States to the Holy See, the White House announced Wednesday.
Miguel Díaz, 45, is a professor of theology at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. In 2008, he served on the National Catholic Advisory Council for the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama.
If the Senate confirms the nomination, Díaz will become the first Hispanic to serve in that post. He will also succeed Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon, who ended her term as ambassador in January.
The announcement came on the eve of Catholic University of America’s daylong symposium that marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic ties between the United States and the Holy See.
At that symposium, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, told the Catholic News Service that Díaz is “an excellent choice because he knows very well the United States and because of his background in the Catholic Church.”
Latin Americans “should be very proud,” he added.
In a statement released by St. John’s University, Díaz said he is “very honored, grateful and humbled that President Obama has nominated me to serve as ambassador to the Holy See. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, I will continue the work of my predecessors and build upon 25 years of formal diplomatic relations with the Holy See. I wish to be a bridge between our nation and the Holy See.”
Díaz was born in Havana, Cuba, the son of a waiter and data-entry operator. He earned his bachelor’s degree from St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida, and received his master’s and doctorate in theology from the University of Notre Dame.
He is the author of “On Being Human: U.S. Hispanic and Rahnerian Perspectives” (Orbis Books, 2001), for which he received the Hispanic Theological Initiative’s 2002 Book of the Year award from Princeton Seminary.
In 2006, he served as president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States. In 2008, Díaz was elected to the Board of the Catholic Theological Society of America.
“As a theologian and educator, Díaz embodies in his scholarship and commitments a profound respect for human dignity and a passion for justice,” said a statement from the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States. “A Catholic layman, Díaz and his family are devoted participants in the life of the Church.
“As a professional association of Hispanic theologians we are encouraged by President Obama’s historic nomination of a Latino Catholic to this office. This nomination affirms the important contribution that Hispanics are making as part of the fabric of our nation.”
He is married to theology professor Marian Díaz, and they have four children.