BY JOHN P. CONNOLLY, THE BULLETIN
APRIL 16, 2009
The Vatican has rejected several unofficial choices for U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, according to reports from Italian newspapers this week.
According to Vatican sources in the Italian newspaper Il Giornale, Caroline Kennedy and Douglas Kmiec were both rejected by the Vatican for their views, which significantly differ from the Church’s teaching on abortion. Ms. Kennedy, daughter of assassinated President John F. Kennedy, supported President Barack Obama during his 2008 campaign.
Mr. Kmiec, a professor of law at Pepperdine University, was well known for his pro-life views before 2008, but endorsed Mr. Obama after Mitt Romney dropped out of the 2008 race.
Both Mr. Kmiec and Ms. Kennedy are Roman Catholics, but have been rebuffed for the position of ambassador because of their departure from Church teaching in their public lives.
The Vatican denied any rejection of candidates as envoy on the grounds that no official candidate has been chosen.
“No proposals for US ambassador have arrived in the Vatican, so nobody has been refused,” said Fr. Federico Lombardi, spokesman for the Holy See. “The rumors that have been circulating on this are not reliable.”
The news of the unofficial struggle over the ambassadorship is one of several signs of growing tensions between the Catholic Church and Mr. Obama. The president created a firestorm for opting to attend the University of Notre Dame’s commencement exercises this year, creating an explosion of criticism for receiving an honorary doctorate from the nation’s premiere Catholic university.
Mr. Obama’s decision to lift funding restrictions on overseas abortion and embryonic stem cell research have also displeased Rome, as well as bishops in the U.S. Mr. Obama is scheduled to meet Pope Benedict XVI in July, when he travels to Italy for the G8 summit in Sardinia.