Report: Ambassador spends too much time on religion

April 11, 2011

WASHINGTON (RNS) The U.S. ambassador to Malta, who helped rally Catholic
support for President Obama's 2008 campaign, has spent "considerable
time" writing on topics beyond the mission of his office, particularly
about matters of faith, according to a new State Department
investigation.

The report from the department's Office of Inspector General said
Ambassador Douglas Kmiec's writings had an "unconventional approach" to
the ambassadorship that has caused "friction" with Washington officials.

"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, and to presenting his views on subjects outside the bilateral
portfolio," reads the February report.

The document was first reported by The Associated Press on Friday
(April 8).

The 49-page report was not specific about those writings; some
writings posted on his website at Pepperdine University School of Law
include references to faith and abortion.

The report notes that Kmiec, who has also faced criticism from
fellow Catholics for his defense of Obama's abortion policies, "is
respected by Maltese officials and most mission staff."

Kmiec defended himself in a statement he emailed to AP.

"I must say that I am troubled and saddened that a handful of
individuals within my department in Washington seem to manifest a
hostility to expressions of faith and efforts to promote better
interfaith understanding," he said. "Our constitution proudly protects
the free exercise of religion -- even for ambassadors."

The White House referred a request for comment to the State
Department, which did not immediately respond.