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WASHINGTON (RNS) The U.S. Senate on Tuesday (Aug. 4) confirmed a Cuban-born theologian as the ninth U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.
Miguel H. Diaz, 45, will be the first theologian and the first Hispanic to serve as American envoy since Washington established formal diplomatic ties with the Holy See in 1984.
A relative unknown before President Obama tapped him in May, Diaz has taught theology at the College of Saint Benedict and St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., since 2004.
He is a board member of the Catholic Theological Society of America and a past president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States.
A first-generation college graduate who immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba as a child, Diaz speaks English, Spanish and Italian fluently.
At confirmation hearings last month, Diaz told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that his socially conscious scholarship gives him common ground with fellow theologian Pope Benedict XVI, which could enable him to further U.S. policies and interests in areas that include the Middle East peace process, dialogue with the Muslim world, bioethics and abortion.
Diaz was mum about his own views on abortion during those proceedings, but anti-abortion Catholics have criticized his support for Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic who supports abortion rights.
Diaz also campaigned for Obama last year as a member of the then-candidate’s Catholic advisory board.
By Francis X. Rocca
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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