Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Malta Doug Kmiec wrote an April 24 open letter reaffirming his admiration for President Obama and protesting the “injustice” forcing him to leave his current position.
“By now, many know that these are my final weeks in Malta,” wrote Kmiec. “An unfortunate rebuke for refusing to either suppress the relevance of faith in my life and writing, or to disregard the President’s assignment to promote inter-faith dialogue, has prompted me to offer my resignation to the President.” According to the State Department, the president has accepted his resignation.
Kmiec said many of his supporters had expressed “anger and disbelief that the U.S. … would tolerate such injustice.” The criticism that Kmiec considered an “injustice” came from State Department officials, who complained that Kmiec was spending too much time writing on the subject of inter-religious dialogue while neglecting fundamental duties of his ambassadorship.
He described the State Department Inspector General's April 7 audit, which led to his resignation, as an act of “soulless, secular censorship.” Along with Kmiec's investment of time in writing about religious affairs, the report also said he did not not manage the embassy effectively, follow State Department guidance, or meet frequently enough with Maltese government officials and colleagues.
“I may have been rebuked by a group holding their hymnals upside down, but at the very same time in the White House, President Barack Obama held a prayer breakfast,” he noted, recalling the president’s recent reflection on the significance of Holy Week.
“The President’s open affirmation of the significance of Divine grace in our hectic, information-overloaded existence is reminiscent of the message of hope and social justice that brought me to his side in 2008 to help him win the Catholic vote,” Kmiec observed.
Kmiec, a self-described pro-life Catholic and former law professor who served in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, drew criticism from pro-life advocates and conservatives for his outspoken support of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.
Nearing the end of his ambassadorship, Kmiec expressed no regrets for this decision.
“Unlike other candidates who used religion to divide,” Kmiec wrote, “candidate Obama searched for common ground.” He said that his own choice to spend significant time writing about religious affairs was his way of “following the President’s direction as practical wisdom and the Holy Spirit would guide me.”
“I cannot help but recall that it was President Obama who brought me here to Malta, where faith abounds,” Kmiec said. “Scheduled to leave now on the Feast of the Visitation,” May 31, “my time grows short and my heart already mourns a premature farewell.”
“A groundswell effort to reach the President to ask him to decline my offered resignation went unanswered,” Kmiec noted. He said he was “disappointed,” but not “devastated” or “defeated” by the outcome.
“Is there an explanation, or is it like the way grace works in our lives, unfathomable? It troubles me deeply not to know,” he reflected. “Yet, let us rejoice together on Easter that it is not to sadness and fear that men and women are called, but to eternal happiness.”
Kmiec had originally proposed that he depart on August 15, the feast of the Assumption. However, after President Obama accepted his resignation, the State Department asked him to leave two-and-a-half months earlier.