CNA: Prof. Kmiec thinks he’s on the short list for the Vatican

Prof. Doug Kmiec, who recently published in Commonweal a rambling 3000+ word apologia pro se cvm jeremiad against right-wing vemon spewing bloggers, is running for office… the appointed office of Ambassador to the Holy See.  

You might recall that in his Commonweal piece Kmiec, a very smart person who is very worried he will not be invited to speak to Catholic groups in the future, swerved back and forth between vituperation about his treatment in the Catholic blogosphere and raising on high vague goals such as "concern for the poor" and tending to the "environment", the accomplishment of which reasonable of people of good will can disagree about.

Kmiec in his article suggested that bloggers were trying to ruin relations between the Obama Administration and the Holy See, as if the Holy See was just champing at the bit to support the Obama Administration in the pursuit of those vaguely defined goals.  

People can disagree about the extent of and solutions for hunger, poverty, climate-change, debt-relief.  But the Holy See is not going to make statements about how to approach these vague goals.  What the Church has said, however, is that abortion is wrong.  It is just wrong, period, end of discussion. 

That is precisely what Prof. Kmiec is clouding within a fog of other "life-issues". 

The Holy See is not going to rush to embrace the Obama Administration on any of those nice but vaguely expressed life-issues.  But the Church is surgically precise about one life-issue. 

So what exactly are the bloggers going to ruin, as Kmiec frets about, by insisting that the one position of the Holy See which is expressed with perfect clarity is being obfuscated by Kmiec’s arguments and actions?

Prof. Kmiec was also oh so demure in that Commonweal offering about his being on the list for a Vatican ambassadorship.

<dirt kick>  "Who? Me?  Shucks, I dunno!" </ dirt kick>

This is in from CNA.

Kmiec considers himself a candidate for Vatican ambassadorship

Malibu, Jan 26, 2009 / 07:23 pm (CNA).- Pepperdine University law professor Doug Kmiec, a pro-life [let us not forget, however, that he is willing to occlude the issue of abortion in consideration of all sorts of other grand issues, such as the environment, third-world debt, concern for the poor, etc.] advocate of President Barack Obama’s election, has stated that he thinks he will be considered as a choice for U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.

Kmiec and his wife attended a private worship service with President Obama the morning of the presidential inauguration and also attended the Illinois inaugural ball that evening, Pepperdine’s student newspaper The Graphic reports.

"The President is nowhere close to determining such things because of the order of events … everyone’s first order of business is economic recovery," Kmiec said, according to The Graphic. "At the appropriate time, when diplomatic relations through the State Department need to be addressed, I think my name would be part of the discussion."  [Sec. Hilary Clinton’s State Department, right?  And Mrs. Clinton has such great respect for the Holy See.  The Clintons always had such cordial regard for the Catholic Church.]

Kmiec, who served as legal counsel for the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, has recently been criticized for his contention that a pro-life Catholic could vote for Obama in good conscience.

The U.S. Ambassador under George W. Bush, Mary Ann Glendon submitted her resignation to the White House prior to President Obama’s Inauguration, as is customary for all ambassadors when a new President is elected, reports Inside the Vatican.

In a Catholic News Service Story updated on January 26, after the first Vatican negative reaction to the Obama administration, John Thavis wrote: "the Vatican is closely watching for Obama’s choice of a new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. An early appointment would be viewed at the Vatican as a sign of the president’s interest and attention to the Holy See."  [But, above, Prof. Kmiec was carrying the water bucket already by saying "Well… we have to focus on the economy after all!  This might take a while.  First things first."]

The choice of ambassador is, of course, up to the president. One informed Vatican official dismissed an earlier report that the Vatican, in a nod toward conservative Catholics, might veto the appointment of a high-profile Catholic supporter of Obama. Rejecting an ambassador for those kinds of political motives is not in the tradition of Vatican diplomacy and would, in fact, be very dangerous, the official said."

President Obama’s reversal of the Mexico City Policy, which had prohibited federal funding of international groups that promote or perform abortions, prompted Vatican officials’ first critical response of his presidency.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, [whose stock greatly went up in my book] President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has criticized "Among the many good things that he could have done, Barack Obama instead has chosen the worst," he said.  [Remember: You can hate the war in Iraq, or worry about thrid-world debt, the environment, the poor, etc.  But people can disagree about how to tackle those issues.  The Holy See isn’t going to get involved with the Obama Administration in sorting out the nuts and bolts for these problems.  But the Holy See is absolutely clear about abortion.  Don’t forget this.   What is the Holy See just dying to support?  The Kyoto accord? This is the key.  Meanwhile…]

"I do not believe that those who voted for him (Obama) took into consideration ethical themes, which were astutely left aside during the election debate. The majority of the American population does not take the same position as the president and his team." [Oh?  No matter.  Even if that is true, it must be said again and again in as many ways as we can craft that abortion is wrong.]

In November, a Vatican official with the Secretary of State denied that Prof. Kmiec has a chance of becoming a U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, telling CNA under condition of anonymity "This will never happen."

CNA recently consulted the same official, who said:

"Obviously the Holy See will not openly veto Kmiec’s appointment. But the process is not that simple. There are always back channel consultations with the (Vatican) Secretary of State, and there is no chance that he (Kmiec) will pass that test.

"There are many ways to tell the Obama administration way in advance that such an appointment would not be a good idea. There are many other candidates, Catholic or not, that would not spark the kind of antagonism and division that Professor Kmiec has sparked, as he himself has recently admitted," the official told CNA.


Good luck, Prof. Kmiec.

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  1. TJM says:

    Little Dougy Kmiec is delusional. I’m fairly certain that the Holy See would rather have a non-Catholic ambassador than an alleged Catholic one
    who stabbed the Church in the back on abortion. Tom

  2. ED says:

    AMEN!!! to that

  3. RANCHER says:

    I understand the need for diplomacy. However, since it is clear that the Obama administration has absolutely no regard for the Pope or the Church’s position on life issues maybe it is time to draw the line in the sand. If Kmiec is offered as the Ambassador to the Vatican it would send a strong message to not only Obama but many others if the Vatician refused to recognize such an appointment. As Fr. Z noted, there is one non-negotiable and that is the abortion issue. If the Vatican fails to say “NO!!!” to such an appointment it waffles no differently than the USCCB which, because of its political correctness, caused most of the problems we are currently experiencing including that of the majority of “catholics” voting for the merchant of murder.

  4. IvoDeNorthfield says:

    “Kmiec, a very smart person who is very worried he will not be invited to speak to Catholic groups in the future”

    Unfortunately, his support for Obama was a prudent move, if he is interested in a career in your average “Catholic” university. He’d have a big advantage over an orthodox Catholic when applying for a teaching or administrative position.

  5. Well, in the world of politics, you only give an interview like that if no one of any import is taking your phone calls. Sometimes, being in the same room with the President doesn’t mean you’re getting a reward soon; sometimes that IS the award.

  6. Let’s suppose President Obama is foolish enough to appoint this little man. Would there be any way for the Holy See to voice or display its disapproval?

  7. Romulus says:

    If American administrations had proper regard for the Holy See’s role and influence, it wouldn’t treat the ambassadorship as a bauble to reward past services. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings one bit to see non-Catholics in the position. This bestowal-as-reward sends the signal that the relationship is irrelevant except when elections are in sight.

  8. RBrown says:

    Unfortunately, his support for Obama was a prudent move,
    Comment by IvoDeNorthfield

    Prudent, no. Shrewd, perhaps.

  9. opey124 says:

    Why wouldn’t the Vatican openly VETO?

  10. Michael R. says:

    “Why wouldn’t the Vatican openly VETO?”

    There’s a reason why they call it diplomacy.

  11. John says:


    Any nation can refuse an ambassador. A refusal, however, is pretty rare.

    It will be interesting to see if Obama attempts to appoint him. Obama is rumored to be very astute politically. Any open, religious based dispute with the Vatican can impact swing voters here in the USA. My guess is that Obama will not appoint him simply because such a dispute can only hurt him. Why fight if you do not have to?

  12. GregY says:

    Steve Wood recently had a good letter on Congress’s responsibility in ending abortion. Instead of hoping that a Republican president might appoint judges to the Court that will overturn Roe, a simple majority of Congress could strip the Court’s jurisdiction over this issue. It’s in the Constitution–Article III, Section 2:
    “…In all the other cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, WITH SUCH EXCEPTIONS, AND UNDER SUCH REGULATIONS AS THE CONGRESS SHALL MAKE.”

    Certainly we should vote for pro-life presidents. But Congress shouldn’t be let off the hook. I’m sorry, but I actually have some sympathy for Catholics who say they’ve been voting for Republicans for 35 years and haven’t seen any results, so they might as well vote Democrat since they agree with them on war, etc. Saying you must vote pro-life rings a little hollow when you know good and well that the pro-life candidate won’t lift a finger to actually stop legalized abortion in a single state.
    Anyone running for federal office who claims to be pro-life should answer directly whether he/she supports stripping the Court’s authority on abortion. There should be a PLEDGE required–I will strip the court’s authority over abortion–until enough are in Congress who will take action.
    Enough of wishy-washy pro-life candidates who have no real intention of ever stopping legalized abortion. We only need a majority vote (and a president willing to sign it). Start working toward this goal today, and perhaps it will be realized in 10 years.
    Get specific. Get concrete. Will you repeal the Court’s authority, I ask?

  13. Matt says:

    I hope that he is appointed, then upon presentation of his credentials, the Holy Father can ask the Swiss Guards to take him into custody for his trial before the Apostolic Signatura, presided by Abp. Raymond “Hangin’ Judge” Burke…

  14. jarhead462 says:

    If the economy is so important to the new Administration, why are we wasting money from day 1 by sending our tax dollars to fund abortions in other countries?

    Semper Fi!

  15. Xenophon says:

    Actually, it’s not all that rare for a country to reject another country’s proposed ambassador. In fact, the Vatican itself did it just last month to Argentina’s nominated ambassador to the Vatican. From an article by Vatican correspondent John Allen:

    “According to press accounts in Argentina, the country’s nominee to become ambassador to the Holy See, Alberto Iribarne, has been rejected by the Vatican on the grounds that he’s divorced and living with another woman.

    Technically speaking, sources said, the Vatican has not explicitly turned down Iribarne’s nomination, but it has rather declined to grant the necessary accreditation since his name was submitted in mid-December. Under the terms of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, a state is free to refuse a given ambassadorial nominee, and is not obligated to furnish a reason.”

  16. I hear that Vonnage theme music again, woho wohoho, this man is a deluded wind bag, some one prick him with a pin

  17. A. Nonymouse says:

    The good prof is associated with a fine university that was founded as an extension of a Protestant church. I wonder where that university and church stand on these issues.

  18. John V says:

    As I noted elsewhere, I think he’s an early contender for the Captain Renault award.

  19. Fabrizio says:


    and not just the Argentinian candidate. There was a 1-year stand-off with France after they’d proposed nothing less than a homosexual militant (Jean-Loup Kuhn-Delforge)and were of course invited to go take a hike. That, after they had already proposed a divorced and remarried French writer (Denis Tillinac). Last October, the Vatican settled for France’s ambassador to Russia!!

  20. James H says:

    I can’t imagine that Obama will appoint him. I am sure that bizaree Commonweal rant sent arlarm bells through the State Department who will also be vetting. That was not very “Envoy” like

  21. Father you said”…it must be said again and again in as many ways as we can craft that abortion is wrong.”Actually I think if most Catholics were told “abortion is a mortal sin’ the truth would be more explicit.Not simply “wrong” or “a grave sin” but “a mortal sin”. Just a suggestion.

  22. Sarsfield says:

    GregY has an excellent point. Although jurisdiction-stripping legislation has been proposed from time to time during the Roe regime, it has never received the backing of anything more than a minority of the Republicans in Congress even when they had nearly veto proof majorities in both houses. In fact, the whole history of the pro-life movement’s almost total absorption into the Republican party,and the lack of any serious quid pro quo for that submission by pro-lifers, is enough to make it easier to understand why some Catholics are tempted to vote for Democrats. Remember, not even a year ago, a certain Rudy Giuliani was the Republican front-runner and was as pro-abortion as Obama. Yet, the Republican hierarchy and most of the “conservative” talkers we ready to throw their support behind him.

    No excuse for Kmiec though. His support of Obama appears to have all the substance and depth of a teenybopper’s swooning for the latest heartthrob.

  23. Boko Fittleworth says:

    A couple quibbles, Father. First, why does anyone think Kmiec is smart? His recent writings have been so incoherent that some have suggested he may be suffering from psychological or even physical illness. (That’s not my guess. I think he couldn’t square the circle and he probably wasn’ta very good writer in the first place.)

    And as for: “[Kmiec] is willing to occlude the issue of abortion in consideration of all sorts of other grand issues, such as the environment, third-world debt, concern for the poor, etc.” Kmiec is willing to fudge on abortion in consideration of one issue only: what earthly reward is in it for Doug Kmiec. The other stuff is all window dressing.

  24. A Random Friar says:

    There is a danger in playing armchair psychologist, but it does seem as if the Professor is really trying very hard to convince himself more than anything else. I mean, if I were to take his position, I could not envision the Vatican welcoming me with open arms. Why should they?

  25. Amelia says:

    “Short list”? Short bus maybe.

  26. m says:

    I guess I don’t understand why y’all believe that the Vatican would reject Kmiec. Put another way – in what way does Kmiec differ from Ray Flynn? I know the feeling here is that it’s impossible to be Catholic, Pro-Life, and a Democrat – but there wasn’t a problem with choosing such a person during the Clinton administration. Do you expect Obama to appoint someone who declared that he oughtn’t be elected?

  27. Mitch says:

    If rejected, Nancy Pelosi could be given a transfer. A perfect postion for her, a self-proclaimed ardent Catholic….And the list goes on……

  28. tertullian says:

    Nice to read that someone at the Vatican is ‘taking names’.

  29. Son of Trypho says:

    If the Holy See doesn’t want Kmiec there is plenty of options available to them rather than waiting for his nomination.

    The simplest way could be that the Vatican instructs his Bishop to call him out on his position re. abortion and the election and ask for clarification. If he reverts back to the acceptable line, he’ll fall out of favour with his new friends and probably not get nominated, if he sticks to his line, they can communicate privately that he is a not a suitable candidate (too controversial for the posting – they could advise that if he persists in his views they would instruct Bishops to refuse him Communion etc which would be toxic) which would effectively veto him.

  30. IvoDeNorthfield says:


    You’re thinking of true prudence–“prudentia” as defined by St. Thomas. Kmiec is trying his hand at Machiavellian “prudenza.” With Machiavellian prudenza, Kmiec has secured himself a job at a Catholic university of his choice, and has done so at the expense of academics who cultivate prudentia.

  31. RC says:

    Or would Professor Kmiec rather be considered for a seat on the Ninth Circuit?

  32. TNCath says:

    Is this guy related to Bishop Kmiec of Buffalo?

  33. FL Catholic says:

    Doug Kmiec is the younger brother of the bishop.

  34. Veritas says:

    “Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world… but for Wales?”

  35. Matt Q says:

    Father Toborowsky wrote:

    “Well, in the world of politics, you only give an interview like that if no one of any import is taking your phone calls. Sometimes, being in the same room with the President doesn’t mean you’re getting a reward soon; sometimes that IS the award.”


    LOL. That’s right, Father. Same as celebrities autographing something for someone at a premiere doesn’t mean they care to see the same person again at another event. If Kmiec keeps it up, maybe they should get him for stalking–or at least harassing phone calls.

  36. Tomas says:

    Here is an analysis of Kmiec’s Commonweal article:

    Apologies for the crappy formatting.

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