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Lipinski Mentioned As Next Vatican Ambassador, But Not Expecting Appointment

Rep. Dan Lipinski

U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) (File Photo; Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Congressman Dan Lipinski’s name has been mentioned as a possible candidate to be the next U.S. ambassador to the Vatican in Rome, although he said he’s not expecting to be appointed.

Lipinski’s name came up in an analysis piece by a Vatican expert in the National Catholic Reporter.

“I’m just honored that other people have mentioned my name,” Lipinski told WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya. “If it would come about – and I’m certainly not expecting it – but if it would come about, I would definitely have to consider that. It would be a great honor, but I’d also have to weigh it against giving up my job as a representative.”

Lipinski, a pro-life lawmaker who represents parts of the Southwest Side and southern suburbs, said it’s important that the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican be accepted by the Pope, and he believes he would be.

“My Catholic background would certainly help. I’m also a Democrat, and in some ways it’s difficult for a Democratic president sometimes to find someone who’s a Democrat – who comes from the Democratic Party – who also would be viewed favorably by the Vatican,” he said.

The congressman said he met last summer in Rome with the outgoing U.S. Vatican Ambassador Miguel Diaz. Lipinski had been in Rome as part of an international legislators’ network that meets yearly.

Lipinski said he has “not heard from the Obama administration” about the job and “that’s why I’m not expecting this appointment.”

One reason the Obama administration might be hesitant to appoint Lipinski the ambassadorship is that it would open a Congressional seat to a special election in a district that’s not a Democratic lock.

Lipinski said, although he was easily re-elected to the newly-configured 3rd Congressional District in November, “certainly this is not a slam-dunk Democratic district.”