.- Catholic commentator George Weigel has written an âopen letterâ to Dr. Miguel Diaz, President Obamaâs nominated ambassador to the Holy See, advising him to focus on common agreement between the Vatican and the United States in his âdifficult task.â
Writing in his weekly column, Weigel suggested Diaz, a theology professor at St. Johnâs University and the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota, cultivate intellectual contacts during his diplomatic work. According to
Weigelâwho is biographer of the late Pope John Paul IIâprevious Ambassadors Jim Nicholson and Mary Ann Glendon were âparticularly successfulâ in fostering reflection upon human rights law, development and religious freedom.
He also suggested the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross and the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum are now the centers for Diaz to find real intellectual energy at the Vatican.
Citing Benjamin Franklinâs rejection of involvement in Catholic bishop appointments in the U.S., Weigel advised Diaz to avoid âentanglementâ in the âinternal affairsâ of the Catholic Church in the United States, especially concerning episcopal appointments.
Weigel then described what he believed to be the normal duties of an ambassador: meeting with ethnic groups, trade associations, and advocacy groups interested in the country to which he is assigned.
Being âan advocateâ for âspecific policies of the administration you representâ is not part of this mission, Weigel remarked, warning that if the Obama administration uses Diaz as a âpartisan surrogateâ with Catholic audiences in the U.S. the action would be âvery poorly receivedâ by the Holy See.
Weigel advised Diaz to focus on areas of agreement, a âdifficult taskâ when the Obama administration and the Holy See are at âcross-purposesâ on several âcoreâ issues such as the right to life.
On more practical matters, Weigel exhorted Diaz to resist U.S. State Department efforts to relocate the Embassy to the Vatican to the grounds of the Embassy to Italy.
âThe Holy See deeply (and rightly) resents such cheese-paring, especially from major powers. Defend your turf, and keep your post independent of Embassy-Italy,â he wrote. âYou can be their friend; donât be their tenant.â
He also recommended the Lenten âstation churchâ pilgrimage led by the North American College, saying it was a âgreat wayâ both to learn the city and to learn to pray.