After a vacancy of nearly one year, the U.S. Senate approved the former head of Catholic Relief Services, Ken Hackett, to serve as the country’s new Ambassador to the Holy See.
“We are overjoyed that the country will be represented by a man who through his decades of service has demonstrated his commitment to the dignity and sanctity of life and fighting global poverty,” said Dr. Carolyn Woo, who succeeded Hackett as president and CEO of the U.S. bishops’ relief organization.
Woo added in her Aug. 2 statement that the charity looks “forward to working with the new ambassador as he engages the Vatican and Pope Francis towards the common goal of advancing peace and justice in the world.”
Hackett was nominated by President Obama on June 14, 2013 to serve as the 10th ambassador to the Vatican, and the Senate approved him unanimously in an Aug. 1 evening session. He will be taking over from Miguel H. Diaz, who left the diplomatic post in Nov. 2012 to become the Professor of Faith and Culture at the University of Dayton.
Hackett brings a lifetime of relief work to his new post, starting with a 1968-1971 stint with the Peace Corps in Ghana, which was followed by 40 years of service with Catholic Relief Services.
In an Aug. 2 interview with The Catholic Review, Hackett reflected on how he will be going from representing the Catholic Church in the U.S. to advocating for the entire country and what the difference will be.
“I thought about that a lot. There will be times where the position of the (Obama) administration differs, obviously, from the Holy See, but I am going to look for, as many of my predecessors did, those opportunities where we can come together and find strength in collaboration, coincidence of interests,” he told the Baltimore archdiocese’s paper.
Hackett believes there are “some powerful connections” between the priorities of the U.S. government and the Church that could “really make a difference” if they are promoted.
One area where he already sees some synergy with the country’s priorities is in Pope Francis’ approach to highlighting the “issues of poverty and injustice and so many social issues.”
During a July 30 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Hackett also listed fighting human trafficking and environmental advocacy as other shared interests.
Hackett is expected to arrive in Rome to take up his post later this month.