Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Douglas W. Kmiec

6/20/2010 (5 years ago)

Catholic Online (

Douglas W. Kmiec is the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Malta; the views expressed are not necessarily those of the President or the Department of State

In truth, there is only one way for any of us to be saved and it is by the acceptance of Our Heavenly Father.  The story of Saint Paul is that we are saved, the Pope wrote some years ago "not by the sword of the conquerors but by the sword of those who suffer.  Only following Christ leads to the new brotherliness, to the new city."

Douglas W. Kmiec is the  U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Malta; the views expressed are not necessarily those of the President or the Department of State

Douglas W. Kmiec is the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Malta; the views expressed are not necessarily those of the President or the Department of State


By Douglas W. Kmiec

Catholic Online (

6/20/2010 (5 years ago)

Published in Europe

FLORIANA, Malta (Catholic Online) - Modern life being what it is, you might expect to find an essay entitled "My Three Fathers" to supply just another over-sensationalized tabloid story.  This is not that tale.  Nor is this essay a remembrance of "My Three Sons," a delightful 50 and 60-ish television sitcom, starring the made for television widowed father, Fred MacMurry, three young boys ever in need of their mom, and as I remember, a dog. 

No, the present essay deals with three fathers who are far more sensational than anything conjured up by the media of today or yesteryear -- indeed, these fathers are sacred.   Walter Kmiec, 87, died gently in his sleep a few weeks ago.  Dad's body over the previous six weeks had been discovered to be ravaged by a fast-spreading cancer and then doubly weakened when the regimen of chemo and radiation proved well intentioned, but fruitless. 

My older brother, Warren, thoughtfully and lovingly cared for Dad during this treatment period, and while it fully exhausted him, care-giving to a terminally ill father is a grace unsurpassed, and the two of us here salute the thousands who day after day with no fanfare or notice care for a seriously ill relative or friend.

Dad wanted, and deserved, to die at home -- where our dear mother and Dad's bride of 60 years had passed five years before. While Dad could no longer walk or even support himself, Warren and I lovingly "danced with our father" from bed to commode to chair and back again.  Dad was a big man, and while the sight might be humorous to contemplate, I can tell you, we saw each awkward opportunity for what it was:  a genuine way to embrace our father a few more times before he slipped this earthly exile. 

In the final week, home hospice care came around the clock and commendably followed father's living will drawn in reference to the Church's teaching and witnessed so profoundly by the late Cardinal Bernardin.  On May 20, the unstoppable cancer would shut down a combination of systems vital to life, and in the night, as Tennyson wrote, "God's finger touched him, and he slept."

The Second Father?

Why Benedict XVI, of course.  Recently, the Holy Father visited the Republic of Malta where each day I am privileged to come in contact with the descendants of those who welcomed St. Paul in 60 A.D. with "uncommon kindness."  The Pope came to formally celebrate the anniversary of St. Paul's Arrival, but of course, the media largely only wanted to talk scandal.  The people of Malta didn't let them. 

The President of Malta welcomed the Pontiff to a country deeply in love with the faith, and the Holy Father returned that love in abundance to those who met him at the airport, to the tens of thousands who worshipped with him at the open-air Mass, to the young people with whom he cruised upon the bay or to those packed along the waterfront waving pennants and delighting in chanting and singing his name. 

Throughout, one witnessed a Pope caring deeply for others.   The Pontiff extended special concern for those adults who recounted abuse decades earlier as a child.  On his own time, with his own quiet charism of forgiveness, the Holy Father met the victims of abuse before the Eucharist in the chapel of the Papal Nuncio on the island.  To believers, Christ was truly present, and even this most ugly of sins was overwhelmed by the Spirit.

In greeting the Pontiff, I could not help but contrast in my mind the red carpet and military band and dignitaries greeting

Benedict XVI with the far less comfortable shipwreck of St. Paul nearly two millennia ago. As sharp a contrast as that image may be, there are several definite similarities between Paul's shipwreck here 1,950 years ago and Benedict's arrival. 

In both instances, Malta extended a welcome of "uncommon kindness," and in both instances, there was suffering in the Church.  Paul's shipwreck occurred during his journey of captivity on his way to endure a trial for his teaching of the Gospel.  Pope Benedict XVI comes at a moment when the grievous and inexcusable behavior of a few has brought distress to many. 

Nonetheless, as I greeted the Pope, I did not see despair, but hope, in his eyes.  "On behalf of the President of the United States and the American Embassy," I said, "we welcome you to this extraordinary place of "faith and family."  The Holy Father smiled and softly thanked me as Bishop Grech who stood behind him inquired whether I had received a recent letter from him.  "No, not yet," I said.  Well, thank you, said the bishop for having the courage to speak out declaring in public press that the scandal was irrelevant to the love of the Church.  (See Times of Malta, April 11, 2010).

Such declarations, you might think - and you would be right - are not the usual utterances of a diplomat.  As much as it distresses some of my colleagues for me to speak of these matters, I take my example from the Paul described in Benedict XVI's writing, where he noted that "[Paul] was not a diplomat.  When he made diplomatic attempts, he had little success.  He was a man who had no other weapon than the message of Jesus Christ."

Malta historically, said the Pope, has been a defender of the faith defeating many foes of Christianity.  Today, the formidable foe of faith - "secularism" lies just north of Malta in southern and Western Europe and to the south in Africa, where the challenge is those who have sought to stir hatred - wrongly -- into Islamic belief.  There is a need, said, the Holy Father, to carry on the inter-faith dialogue for which Malta is so well situated at the cross-roads of Christian, Muslim and Judaic thought.

Our Heavenly Father

In truth, there is only one way for any of us to be saved and it is by the acceptance of Our Heavenly Father.  The story of Saint Paul is that we are saved, the Pope wrote some years ago "not by the sword of the conquerors but by the sword of those who suffer.  Only following Christ leads to the new brotherliness, to the new city."

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and with Dad's memory strongly laying claim upon my heart (and may it ever be so), may this Father's Day for you be a happy and blessed one.


Douglas W. Kmiec is the  U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Malta; the views expressed are not necessarily those of the President or the Department of State.


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More Europe

The unexpected thing one Syrian refugee did for Germany that will melt your heart Watch

Image of Syrian refugee Alex Assali fed the homeless outside Berlin's Alexanderplatz station in an effort to give back to the city that has helped him, and other refugees, so much (Imgur).


Amid fears of ISIS infiltration and Muslim takeovers, one Syrian refugee took a stand against prejudiced tensions and thanked the city of Berlin on behalf of all refugees. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Each Saturday, Alex Assali cooks and distributes food to ... continue reading

Concentration camps and Nazi language: Berlin guards caught on tape speaking unbelievably cruel about refugees Watch

Image of Berlin guards at the office for refugees have reportedly been recorded using Nazi language and suggesting refugees be sent to concentration camps (Markus Heine/ NurPhoto).


Videos have been released showing Berlin guards around the office for refugees using "Nazi language" and suggesting the refugees be sent to concentration camps. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Security guards working for private contractor Gegenbauer Security ... continue reading

SHOCK SHOW: Sacrilegious art exhibit in Spain uses 240 stolen consecrated hosts Watch

Image of Photos of the theft of the Hosts and their placement on the ground are shown in a public art gallery in Pamplona.

By Catholic News Agency

Critics of Pamplona's city council say it deliberately attacked Catholics and broke Spanish law by using city property to display a sacrilegious art exhibit with more than 240 stolen consecrated Hosts. Madrid, Spain (CNA) - The Spanish artist Abel Azcona stole ... continue reading

French Hostage Situation: Two armed suspects engage in shootout with French police Watch

Image of French police engaged in a shootout with two suspects armed with Kalashnikovs (Not pictured).


Two suspects armed with Kalashnikov rifles engaged in a shootout with French police in Toubaix, France. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The suspects are believed to have taken a bank director and his family hostage, but very little is currently known.[media ... continue reading

Vatican corruption: Journalists stand trial Watch

Image of Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi must stand trial at the Vatican for publishing confidential documents (Reuters).


Following the publication of books claiming the Holy See was mismanaged and spoiled through corruption, five people went on trial at the Vatican on Tuesday. Two of the five on trial were Italian Journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, neither of whom ... continue reading

Undercover reporter reveals secret FEMALE ISIS organization in Britain Watch

Image of One veiled ISIS sympathizer was filmed during the undercover investigation (Channel 4).


In a new British documentary titled The British Women Supporters Unveiled, one young female reporter goes undercover to infiltrate a secret Muslim organization designed to garner sympathy for the Islamic State. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The reporter, who uses ... continue reading

OUTRAGEOUS: Find out why The Lord's Prayer was BANNED from Just Pray movie theater ad Watch

Image of


An advertisement featuring the Lord's Prayer has been banned from movie theaters in England. According to the Church of England, the policy that prevents the prayer advertisement did not exist when they began production on the commercial. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading

Swiss farmer finds 4,000 extremely rare Roman coins in his orchard Watch

Image of The cache of coins is estimated to be more than 1,700 years old.


A Swiss farmer was tilling his orchard in Ueken, in the northern canton of Aargau, Switzerland, when he spotted something shiny on the ground. He had inadvertently stumbled across a treasure trove of Roman-era coins - 4,166 in all, some dating as back as 274 ... continue reading

Five people indicted by Vatican in 'Vati-leaks' scandal Watch

Image of Journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi (pictured), had both recently published books, citing specific Vatican documents detailing waste, mismanagement, and greed.


A judge, rendering a decision in a scandal involving Vatican finances has indicted five people, which include two journalists and a Vatican monsignor. Information linking the Vatican to financial malfeasance, as well as related graft and corruption called ... continue reading

Massacre in France is a Piecemeal Third World War, and Jesus is the Path to Peace Watch

Image of With tenderness, Jesus looked out from the Mount of Olives and saw the Holy City of Jerusalem. How he loved - and still loves - that special City. Then, Jesus wept. The Word Incarnate, made a man like us in all things but sin, cried. He knew that the City of Jerusalem would soon be overtaken and destroyed by the armies of Titus. He wept the tears of Love - and revealed the compassion of His Sacred Heart

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Do we recognize the time of our own visitation? God is present in our world today. He wants to  speak, to lead, to serve, to heal and to save. He is not to blame for the mess we are in. We are!  Those who purport to be representing their "God"  as ... continue reading

All Europe News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Daily Readings for Monday, November 30, 2015
  • St. Andrew: Saint of the Day for Monday, November 30, 2015
  • GRAPHIC IMAGES: Islamic extremist shown being BLOWN UP while making ...
  • MIRACLES DO HAPPEN: Days-old baby girl buried alive pulled to safety ...
  • Prayer For Courage HD Video
  • The Miracle Prayer HD Video
  • CRYBABY KILLER: Islamist State fighter breaks down in tears after ...

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Romans 10:9-18
9 that if you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and if you ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 19:2-3, 4-5
2 day discourses of it to day, night to night hands on the ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 4:18-22
18 As he was walking by the Lake of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 30th, 2015 Image

St. Andrew
November 30: Andrew, like his brother Simon Peter, was a ... Read More