April 11th, 2011
04:13 PM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) - The U.S. ambassador to Malta has upset the State Department by devoting so much time to writing and speaking about faith-related issues, according to a report from the department’s inspector general released last week.
The ambassador, Douglas Kmiec, was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 after Kmiec helped spearhead Obama’s outreach to Catholic voters in the 2008 presidential campaign.
“Based on a belief that he was given a special mandate to promote President Obama’s interfaith initiatives, he has devoted considerable time to writing articles for publication in the United States as well as in Malta,” the State Department’s Inspector General’s Office said of Kmiec in an inspection report on the Maltese embassy released Thursday.
“His approach has required Department principals, as well as some embassy staff, to spend an inordinate amount of time reviewing his writings, speeches and other initiatives,” the report continued.
“His official schedule has been uncharacteristically light for an ambassador at a post of this size,” it said, “and on average he spends several hours of each workday in the residence, much of which appears to be devoted to his nonofficial writings.”
The State Department report did not cite specific instances of Kmiec’s faith-related writings and appearances, but said that "his unconventional approach to his role as ambassador has created friction with principal officials in Washington, especially over his reluctance to accept their guidance and instructions."
The ambassador, a former dean of Catholic University of America's law school, wrote in June about his father’s death for America, a weekly Catholic magazine. In an op-ed last year for The Times of Malta, Kmiec said Malta could provide a model for Obama as he pushed for health care reform.
“During Lent, as we prayerfully await the visit of the Holy Father to this largely Catholic place, it is fascinating for this visitor to contemplate how much Malta adds to the world's better understanding of itself,” Kmiec wrote in the op-ed, which ran as Pope Benedict XVI prepared to visit the island nation.
Kmiec has given many interviews to Malta-based media in which he has emphasized his belief that faith can be a key part of international diplomacy and has stated his disagreement with Obama’s support for abortion rights.
“President Obama is not pro-life,” Kmiec told the Malta Independent in 2009, “and we disagreed from the first time we met.”
Kmiec served as a top lawyer in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush but endorsed Obama in 2008, largely because he said Obama was willing to explore opportunities for common ground with conservatives on divisive issues like abortion.
Kmiec did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Times of Malta reported Sunday that Kmiec has added another faith-based event to his calendar. He’ll be lecturing Thursday on “the necessity of religious freedom for the common good’s good” at the University of Malta.
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