The United States Ambassador to the Holy See made a farewell visit to Pope Benedict XVI today.
Ambassador Miguel Diaz is leaving his position after just over three years’ service representing the Obama administration.
An embassy spokesman said he would probably be leaving Rome at the weekend to take up a teaching position at the University of Dayton, OH.
The embassy said the move had been in the pipeline for a while, and that it had planned to announce the ambassador's departure after the Presidential Elections tomorrow, but as the farewell visit took place today, the Vatican pre-empted the disclosure by making an announcement in its daily bulletin. Ambassador Diaz, who was formally sworn in on August 21st, 2009, has nevertheless fulfilled the usual term for ambassadors which is commonly two to three years.
A married father of four, Ambassador Diaz was the first Hispanic to represent the United States at the Vatican. Born in Havana, Cuba, he moved as a child to the United States, where he would eventually become professor of theology at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota, and Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. He has also previously taught at the University of Dayton. As professor, he specialized in the works of the theologian, Karl Rahner.
His first public appearance as ambassador was at a conference on the prevention of AIDS and HIV, co-hosted by the embassy and Caritas Internationalis. He then spent much of his tenure promoting cooperation on other areas of convergence such as migration, poverty eradication, and combating human trafficking.
Rather than focus on issues of conflict with the Holy See - and there were significant ones, the HHS mandate or the Obama administration’s radical policies on abortion and same-sex rights to name a few - he chose to focus on those interests the U.S. and the Vatican had in common.
UPDATE - Nov. 7th, 2012
The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See issued the following statement today:
VATICAN CITY — Miguel H. Díaz, United States Ambassador to the Holy See since 2009, will leave his position following the presidential elections and return to academia effective the week of November 13, 2012. Ambassador Diaz was proud to serve almost three and a half years in his position as the 9th U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. He will join his family in Dayton, Ohio, where he has been named University Professor of Faith and Culture at the University of Dayton.
“As Ambassador, I have had the pleasure of representing the people of the United States to the Holy See, and to develop our already strong cooperation,” Ambassador Diaz said. During his tenure at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, he was influential in promoting the shared values of the United States and the Holy See in peace, justice, and human rights.
Ambassador Diaz helped launch the Religion in Foreign Policy Working Group of the Secretary of State’s Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society. The Working Group facilitates regular dialogue between the U.S. foreign policy establishment and religious leaders, scholars, and practitioners worldwide on strategies to build more effective partnerships on a wide range of goals, including conflict prevention, humanitarian assistance, and national security. “The working group is an unprecedented initiative that demonstrates the administration’s commitment to involve religious leaders in shaping U.S. foreign policy; I am proud to take an active role to ensure its success,” he said.
The Embassy will be headed by the Chargé d’Affaires, until a new Ambassador is nominated by the Administration and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.