WASHINGTON -- With a roomful of theologians, college professors and presidents, political activists, leaders of various church organizations, and family and longtime friends looking on, Catholic theologian Miguel Diaz was sworn in as ambassador to the Vatican Aug. 21.
In a brief, invitation-only ceremony in the ornate Benjamin Franklin room at the State Department, Assistant Secretary of State Phil Gordon administered the standard governmental oath of office and supervised as Diaz signed an assortment of official papers.
The process of stepping into the job as ambassador concludes with Diaz's formal presentation of his diplomatic credentials to the Vatican.
Diaz, a professor at St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict, both in Minnesota, is the first Hispanic and the first theologian to represent the U.S. at the Vatican. His predecessors have all come to the job with more extensive backgrounds in political activism or diplomacy.
Diaz was active in President Barack Obama's campaign, serving on his board of Catholic advisers and as a campaign representative at times, particularly with Spanish-language news media.