Former Indiana Sen. Donnelly nominated as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 5:41 PM EDT
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(WNDU) - Rome could soon be the new home of Joe Donnelly.

Donnelly has been nominated to serve in the Biden administration as the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

The nomination has been filed with the U.S. Senate. The next step will be to schedule a confirmation hearing and vote.

Donnelly spent a dozen years in elected office representing Indiana in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

Donnelly says he has never met the Pope, has never been to the Vatican, and that he speaks very little Italian; yet he considers himself tailor-made for the job.

“This ambassadorship is something that’s kind of imbued in who I am,” Donnelly told 16 News Now. “I’m the grandson of Irish Catholic immigrants who came to this country, whose life was about faith, and family, and country.”

Donnelly said he could not speak specifically about what his priorities as an ambassador would be, but it’s no secret that next week President Biden will meet with the Pope to discuss the climate crisis, ending the pandemic, and caring for the poor.

“And as I said, I can’t go into the details of how I’ll handle this, or work on that, but you know, the Vatican is so critical in obviously food programs and faith programs, and international relations. They are well respected around the world as is the United States.”

Donnelly is a former altar boy who says his mother died when he was just 10 years old, and that his father relied on faith to raise five children alone.

There was a time in the 1990′s when Donnelly put parenting ahead of public service. He rejected pleas to run for public office so he could concentrate on coaching his children’s T-ball teams.

“And so now, no little league team will hire me anymore so,I have this opportunity,” Donnelly joked. “It’s a chance to serve our country, you know, and the president asked me if I would, and when the President of the United States asks you, you serve.”

While Donnelly has never met the Pope, he once attended a mass with the Pontiff. Donnelly was also here when the Pope spoke to the U.S. Congress in September of 2015.

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