Retired president of Catholic Relief Services expected to succeed Miguel Diaz

American President Barack Obama has nominated Ken Hackett, retired president of Catholic Relief Services, as US ambassador to the Holy See.

Making the announcement alongside nominations for posts in Brazil, Spain, Germany, Denmark and Ethiopia, Mr Obama said: “It gives me great confidence that such dedicated and capable individuals have agreed to join this administration to serve the American people. I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”

Mr Hackett retired in December 2011 after 18 years as president of CRS, the US bishops’ overseas relief and development agency.

He is expected to succeed Miguel Diaz, who left the post late last year. Dr Diaz now is a professor of faith and culture at the University of Dayton, Ohio.

Mr Hackett was appointed president of CRS in 1993. During his tenure, he established a division focusing on outreach to dioceses, parishes, Catholic organisations, and colleges and universities, and lay people were first appointed to the CRS board of directors.

Catholic Relief Services now operates in more than 100 countries, with a global staff of nearly 5,000.

In May 2012 he received the University of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal during commencement ceremonies. The medal has been given annually since 1883 to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church and enriched the heritage of humanity”.

In announcing the honour, Fr John Jenkins, Notre Dame’s university president, said: “Ken Hackett has responded to a Gospel imperative with his entire career. His direction of the Catholic Church’s outreach to the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and unsheltered of the world has blended administrative acumen with genuine compassion in a unique and exemplary way.”

Mr Hackett is a former North American president of Caritas Internationalis, the confederation of humanitarian agencies of the Catholic Church, and continues to serve on the board of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum at the Vatican and as an adviser to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.