NEW YORK – After months of anticipation, the White House announced on Friday afternoon that President Joe Biden will nominate former U.S. Senator Joseph Donnelly as the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.
Like President Joe Biden, Donnelly is a devout Irish Catholic.
Donnelly, a Democrat, was senator from Indiana from 2013-2019 and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2007 to 2013, representing Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District.
“I am truly honored to be nominated to this role by President Biden, a man of faith and a friend,” Donnelly said in a statement to Insider. “If confirmed, I look forward to working with the Holy See on a wide variety of issues, including human rights, religious freedom, immigration, climate change, peace, and poverty.”
Donnelly, a pro-life Democrat, didn’t mention issues of life, mainly abortion. Biden, the second Catholic president in U.S. history has been under fire from many Catholics since the election for his pro-abortion stance. This includes from a portion of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that have advocated he, and other pro-abortion politicians including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi be barred from receiving communion.
Donnelly, though, has supported Biden’s faith in the past. He served as co-chair of Catholics for Biden through the 2020 election. He’s also publicly defended the president’s faith in an August 2020 op-ed in the Indianapolis Star when it was questioned by President Donald Trump.
“Joe Biden lives his faith every day. Every Sunday, he is on his knees attending Mass and praying for this country, his family, and all those in need in our beloved nation,” Donnelly wrote. “I know this because I know Joe Biden and I come from the same Irish Catholic faith tradition.”
Donnelly, 66, brings some foreign policy experience to the role as a former member of the Afghanistan Study Group. He’s chairman of the Soufan Center in New York – an independent nonprofit center focusing on global security challenges and foreign policy issues. He is also a partner at Akin Gump in Washington D.C.
He earned a BA degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1977 and a JD from Notre Dame Law School four years later. Notre Dame President Father John I. Jenkins extended his congratulations to Donnelly on Friday.
“Joe has been an exemplary public servant in Congress, an invaluable friend of Notre Dame and of me personally, and he is the ideal choice to represent the United States at the Vatican,” Jenkins said. “He will bring to this role a deep understanding of the issues currently facing our nation and the world, a genuine Catholic faith and an understanding of the role the Church can play in our world.”
“On behalf of the Notre Dame family, I offer my congratulations and prayers as he prepares for this new responsibility,” Jenkins continued.
The Ambassador to the Holy See role is currently filled by Chargé d’Affaires Patrick Connell. Connell took over on an interim basis after the departure of Trump appointee Callista Gingrich.
Follow John Lavenburg on Twitter: @johnlavenburg