Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Duquesne professor Cafardi considered for U.S. ambassador to Vatican

Nicholas Cafardi, law professor and dean emeritus at the Duquesne University School of Law, is among those President Barack Obama is considering for ambassador to the Vatican.

"I'm aware I'm being considered. I've been told my name is at the White House, but I'm also not the only one being considered," said Mr. Cafardi, 64, a canon and civil lawyer who was national co-chair of Catholics for Obama.

His name is among the first mentioned in the Catholic press and blogosphere. 

Stories from the church's right wing have implied that his support for the president meant tolerance of abortion while those from the center-to-left defended his anti-abortion credentials and touted his knowledge of the Vatican.

Others often mentioned are Stephen Schneck, a professor at the Catholic University of America who is active in Democrats for Life; Ken Hackett, the former president of Catholic Relief Services; and U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.

Mr. Cafardi was also considered for the post in 2009. The president chose Miguel Diaz, a theologian who has left to teach at the Univesity of Dayton.

Mr. Cafardi speaks Italian and knows the Vatican well, having briefly attended seminary and earned two canon law degrees in Rome, where he taught an annual summer canon law course. He and his wife, Dr. Kathleen Shepard, a pediatrician, own a home outside Rome. 

He is a longtime friend of both Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is a native of Pittsburgh.

As the former general counsel of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, in the 1990s he worked with then-Bishop Wuerl to try to establish national policies to remove child predators from ministry. 

He was one of the first members of the U.S. bishops' National Review Board, which oversees their response to abuse complaints, and was its chair in 2004-05.

He is the author of "Before Dallas," a study of how the U.S. bishops responded to sexual abuse by priests prior to the charter they adopted at Dallas in 2002, and of "Voting and Holiness: Catholic Perspectives on Political Participation."

Mr. Cafardi described himself as an orthodox Catholic.

"I believe everything my church teaches. I always have and I always will. The disputes I've had with some bishops have been over their choice of political tactics to implement those beliefs," he said.

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