And if any further proof were needed that things are changing in Obama’s America, consider this: The surnames of the previous ambassadors to the Vatican were: Wilson, Shakespeare, Melady, Glendon, Flynn, Boggs, Nicholson, Rooney, and Glendon.
In my coverage of the Vatican, I knew most of them well, a few of them very well, and at least three — Melady, Flynn and Nicholson (two Republicans and a Democrat) — became friends who still keep in touch. Their kindness then and now will always be appreciated.
Still, there is a certain buzz in the air in Rome over the arrival of Diaz, who presented his credentials to Pope Benedict on Friday. The first Latino to get the post, he is Cuban-American (born in Havanna and raised in Miami). Apart from the last ambassador, Harvard Prof. Mary Ann Glendon, Diaz perhaps knows more about Roman Catholicism and the workings of the Church than any of his predecessors.
But perhaps most significantly, Diaz is a theologian. He was professor of theology at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, both in Collegeville, Minnesota. He is also a former president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians fo the United States and board member of the Catholic Theological Society of America.