- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 8, 2009


Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion when he accepted the diplomatic credentials of U.S. Ambassador Miguel Diaz, whose appointment as ambassador to the Vatican followed a backroom diplomatic dispute between the Obama administration and the Holy See.

The pope’s pro-life message was a clear signal to the White House, which had reportedly floated the idea of sending an ambassador who supported President Obama‘s positions on abortion.

The Vatican quietly rejected at least three potential candidates, including Caroline Kennedy, according to reports in respected Rome newspapers earlier this year. Vatican officials publicly insisted they never formally received requests to accept any other potential U.S. ambassador.

Benedict also insisted on protection from retaliation for doctors or nurses who are personally opposed to abortion.

He said, “Here, I think particularly of the need for a clear discernment with regard to issues touching the protection of human dignity and respect for the inalienable right to life from the moment of conception to natural death, as well as the protection of the right to conscientious objection on the part of health care workers and, indeed, all citizens.”

Mr. Diaz, a pro-life Democrat, avoided any mention of abortion in his prepared remarks, when he met last week with the pontiff at the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo.

“Your Holiness, … your encyclicals have further developed Catholic social teaching, defending the dignity of all persons and inviting the human family to embrace the power of love in order to overcome conflict and divisions,” the ambassador said.

“Your urgent priorities coincide with those set forth by President Obama.”

The ambassador added, “The United States profoundly respects the Holy See as a sovereign entity, as a humanitarian actor and as a unique moral voice in the world.”

Mr. Diaz, 46, is a former theology professor at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota.


U.S. Ambassador Mark Gitenstein praised Romania’s progress from a closed communist nation 20 years ago to a vibrant nation that broke out of its isolation by joining NATO and the European Union and by promoting a market economy.

Mr. Gitenstein, addressing the Romanian Economic Forum this week, noted that the American Chamber of Commerce in Romania grew from 20 member companies when it was formed in 1993 to more than 300 today. Those firms provide $10 billion in investments and employ thousands of Romanians.

“Over the last decades,” he said, “this country has undergone remarkable political and economic changes that have led to the status of a NATO and EU member.”

He called on Romania to pass laws to protect foreign investments because a friendly business climate will attract even more commerce.

“We have a common interest seeing that Romania continues to be a competitive and attractive place,” he said.


Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia appointed the man he defeated as leader of the Labor Party to serve as ambassador to the United States.

Kim Beazley, 60, led the center-left party to two election defeats before Mr. Rudd replaced him in 2006. Mr. Beazley said the new position poses a challenge.

“This is just about the toughest ambassadorial job that we have,” he told reporters in the Australian capital, Canberra.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

• James Morrison can be reached at jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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