30 January 2013

Duquesne Law Professor Considered for Ambassador to Vatican City

By Staci Fonner, Assoc. Print Editor

Duquesne’s own Dean Emeritus Nicholas Cafardi is one of only a handful of people being considered for ambassador to the Holy See, representing the interests of Vatican City.
“It’s an honor to be considered,” Cafardi said.
To his knowledge, the position will be filled by mid-February or March. Cafardi said that as he understands, it is currently on the desk of Pete Rouse, Counselor to the President.
“As far as I know, I’m one of at least four people being considered,” Cafardi said. “There may be more.”
Dean Emeritus Nicholas Cafardi
© Pittsburgh City Paper/Renee Rosensteel
In both 2008 and 2012, Cafardi served on President Obama’s National Catholic Advisory Board, which advises the President on how to handle issues of interest to the Catholic voters.
Cafardi is not without his critics, some wondering how he can reconcile his liberal and Catholic views.
“There are people who don’t understand how you can be a Catholic and a Democrat, but you can be,” he said.
“I believe everything the church teaches. Where I disagree with some bishops is that they believe that they have the right to determine the political tactics that will achieve the Church's moral teachings. I think that right belongs to lay Catholics acting with an informed conscience.”
One concern among conservative Catholics is voting against pro-life ideologies.
“As a Catholic, I hate to see my church reduced to one issue,” Cafardi said. “I’m very pro-life. I think abortion is a terrible evil. If I could think of a way to make it go away, I would. I don’t think anybody is pro-abortion or thinks it is a societal value that we should pursue. Every abortion is a tragedy.”
However, Cafardi believes overturning Roe v. Wade is not the answer.
“All overturning Roe does is give the matter back to the states, so there will be some states where abortion will be legal and some states where it will be highly regulated, which means as long as Greyhound buses work, abortions will be available.”
“Countries where abortion is illegal, abortion rates are higher,” he said. “So if we really want to deal with the evil of abortion, shouldn’t we look at the facts?”
Cafardi grew up in a liberal, Catholic home in Pittsburgh. At age 18, he traveled to Rome and studied for three years at Gregorian University. He spent five years in seminary before deciding that priesthood was not for him.  
Returning to the States, Cafardi earned a master’s degree in philosophy from Duquesne University and a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh.
After graduating, Cafardi served as in-house counsel to the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, practicing many areas of the law.
When asked why he wanted to pursue a career in law, Cafardi said it was his sense that the world was not fair and the idea that, as a lawyer, he could at least help make it fairer.

[For more on Dean Cafardi, read Duquesne Law Professor Joseph Sabino Mistick's TribLive Opinion Column here.]

Staci is a second-year day student at Duquesne Law and earned her bachelor’s degree at Marshall University, where she studied public relations and journalism. Staci is interested in media law, contracts, immigration law and intellectual property, but her dream job is taking Matt Lauer’s place on the Today show. Staci can be reached at standifords@duq.edu.