News | Sunday, 05 July 2009
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Refused by the Vatican, US sends Kmiec to Malta

The newly appointed American ambassador to Malta was first touted as “the perfect candidate” for US ambassador to the Holy See, but was then reportedly refused by the Vatican due to his stance on life issues.
Catholic Republican Douglas W. Kmiec created a stir last year when he endorsed Barack Obama in the US presidential elections. This week, US chargé d’affaires Jason Davis announced Kmiec had been appointed ambassador to Malta.
Kmiec’s candidacy for the Holy See was quashed last April when the Obama administration presented him as one of three candidates.
The candidatures sank due to their views on abortion. A Vatican source told the Catholic News Agency Kmiec would not become the ambassador due to his stance on life issues.
According to the Corriere della Sera, papal advisers told Obama’s aides privately that all three nominees failed to meet the Vatican’s most basic qualification on the abortion issue.
The US often appoints Catholics as ambassadors to Malta. Molly Bordonaro (2005- 2009), Anthony Goia (2001-2004), Joseph Paolino (1994-1996) and Sally Novetzke (1989-1993) were all Roman Catholics.
Douglas W. Kmiec, born 1951, is an American legal scholar and author. He caused a stir by endorsing the pro-choice Obama in the 2008 presidential election. As he had explained to the Chicago Tribune, “Obama was sounding more Catholic than most Catholics I know.” But he also argued that Obama’s desire to “alleviate social conditions that correlate with abortion”, such as poverty, was convincing.
Despite his disagreements with Obama, especially over the issue of abortion, he indicated that it was time to find common ground on this and other topics.
As a result of endorsing the pro-choice Obama, Kmiec was denied Communion in May 2008 at a mass for Catholic business people in California. Later, Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Los Angeles archdiocese called the action “shameful and indefensible” and asked the priest to write a letter apology to Kmiec.
In the midst of the election, Kmiec proceeded to write Can A Catholic Support Him?: Asking the Big Question About Barack Obama (2008) to explain his support for Senator Obama in light of Catholic principles.
Kmiec was a member of the faculty at Notre Dame Law School from 1980 to 1999, with several leaves to serve in the Office of Legal Counsel for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush senior. At Notre Dame, he directed the Thomas White Center on Law & Government and founded the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy. From 2001 to 2003, Kmiec was the Dean and St. Thomas More Professor of the law school at the Catholic University of America.
Kmiec has been a White House Fellow and a Distinguished Fulbright Scholar on the Constitution in Asia.
He is currently the Caruso Family Chair and Professor of Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University School of Law. Kmiec is married to Carolyn Keenan and together they have five children.


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