VATICAN CITY — The recently appointed American ambassador to the Holy See presented his credentials to Pope Francis in a meeting earlier this morning, officially marking the beginning of his duties.
“The Vatican and the Holy Father have the ability to influence world events in a positive way through the calling of faith, and they will continue to be important partners in future collaboration,” U.S. ambassador Ken Hackett stated in an Oct. 21 press release announcing the event.
Hackett was nominated in June by President Barack Obama to serve as the 10th ambassador to the Vatican, and he was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate in an Aug. 1 evening session.
He will be taking over for Miguel Diaz, who left the diplomatic post in November 2012 to become the professor of faith and culture at the University of Dayton in Ohio.
Speaking of his new position, Hackett noted that “President Obama and Secretary of State [John] Kerry have both highlighted the need to engage with religious leaders and the faith community in the policy process to address critical global issues,” adding that Pope Francis will be a close collaborator in the decisions made.
Hackett brings to his position extensive experience in relief work, having served with the Peace Corps in Ghana from 1968 until 1971 and afterwards dedicating 40 years to working with Catholic Relief Services, spending 18 of those years as the organization’s president and CEO.
Referencing his duties within the company, Hackett stressed, “In my time at CRS, I had the personal joy of being involved in efforts to alleviate some of the conditions Pope Francis talks about — poverty, refugees, migration.”
The Pope’s approach and emphasis of the issues of “poverty and injustice,” as well as “many social issues,” is already an area where he sees a lot synergy, the ambassador said in an Aug. 2 interview with The Catholic Review upon the approval of his nomination.
“I believe there is much we can continue to do together to work further towards promoting human dignity.”
In a July 30 Senate Foreign Relations hearing, Hackett also listed the fighting of human trafficking and environmental advocacy among other shared interests.