president nominated as U.S. ambassador to Vatican
President Barack Obama June 14 nominated Ken Hackett, retired president of
Catholic Relief Services, to be
ambassador to the Holy See.
Obama’s announcement about Hackett came late in the day, along with his nominees for
ambassador posts in
“It gives me
great confidence that such dedicated and capable individuals have agreed to
join this administration to serve the American people. I look forward to
working with them in the months and years to come,” the president said.
retired in December 2011 after 18 years as president of CRS, the
overseas relief and development agency.
ambassador to the
succeeds Miguel Diaz, who left the post in late 2012. Diaz now is a professor
of faith and culture at the University of Dayton,
appointed president of CRS in 1993. During his tenure, he established a
division focusing on outreach to dioceses, parishes, Catholic organizations,
and colleges and universities, and laypeople were first appointed to the CRS
board of directors.
Relief Services now operates in more than 100 countries, with a global staff of
Born in West
, Hackett joined the Peace Corps
shortly after his 1968 graduation from
Assigned to a Catholic mission in rural Ghana, he worked in an agricultural
cooperative and saw “the actual impact of American food aid on the health and
well-being of very poor kids in a very isolated part of a West African
country,” he said recently.
completing his Peace Corps assignment, Hackett joined CRS, the U.S. Catholic relief
and development agency, in 1972. He started his career in
where he managed a nationwide leprosy program and a maternal and child health
positions took him to various posts in Africa and Asia, as well as in CRS’
As regional director for
, he managed
the agency’s response to the Ethiopian famine of 1984-85. He also supervised
CRS operations in East Africa during the crisis in
in the 1990s.
2012, Hackett and Diaz represented the
government at the consistory led by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Basilica
ceremony. Pope Benedict XVI
created 22 new cardinals from 13 countries -- including two from the
and one from
In May of
that year, he received the University of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal during commencement ceremonies. The medal has
been given annually since 1883 to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the
arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church and enriched the
heritage of humanity.”
announcing that honor, Holy Cross Father John I.
Jenkins, Notre Dame’s university president, said in a statement: “Ken Hackett
has responded to a Gospel imperative with his entire career. His direction of
the Catholic Church’s outreach to the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and
unsheltered of the world has blended administrative acumen with genuine
compassion in a unique and exemplary way.”
Hackett is a
former North American president of Caritas Internationalis,
the confederation of humanitarian agencies of the Catholic Church, and
continues to serve on the board of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum at the
and as an adviser to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.