The two worlds of Nick Cafardi
By Joseph Sabino Mistick
Published: Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
When Nick Cafardi agreed to serve as national co-chair of Catholics for Obama in 2008 and 2012, he was already happily ensconced as dean emeritus of Duquesne Law School, at peace as a teacher and writer. Eager to highlight Catholic values as part of the national agenda, he took the plunge and now he is on the shortlist for ambassador to the Holy See.
Cafardi could become the most recent Pittsburgher to play a prominent Vatican role. The late John E. Connelly, because of his largess and his close relationship with John Paul II, set the bar high when he was asked to identify an architect to design a chapel just inside the Vatican walls. The Gateway Clipper Fleet founder tapped another Pittsburgher, Lou Astorino.
As a kid growing up on Bouquet Street in Oakland, Cafardi was on track for the priesthood but found other ways to serve, becoming a husband and father and honing his legal skills in Pittsburgh and Rome. He was a civil lawyer for the Pittsburgh Diocese for 13 years and, as a canon lawyer, has represented bishops, cardinals and even the Holy See.
In its darkest hour, the Catholic Church turned to Cafardi to serve as an original member of The United States Catholic Bishops' National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Youth. He co-authored the board's report, an essential first step toward restoring trust.
On the civil side, as founding chair of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Commission on Racial and Gender Bias in the Justice System, he co-authored a report that advocated changes to assure that equal protection and opportunity exist for all commonwealth citizens.
If you ask Cafardi what kind of Catholic he is, he quickly responds: “Orthodox. I believe everything that my church teaches. But I disagree with some in the church over their choice of political tactics.”
And that disagreement, along with his appreciation of the compassionate social policies embraced by the “Nuns on the Bus,” has drawn some opposition from the conservative wing of the church, mostly those who opposed President Obama in both campaigns. In today's political world, even those who failed to carry the day think they should still get to call the shots.
As a boy roaming the streets of South Oakland, Cafardi spent school days at the old Bishop's Latin School in Homewood and summers poking around Forbes Field. There, on the hillside over Panther Hollow, he learned to navigate two worlds — the old and the new, church and state, Italian and American cultures.
With a little luck, which is needed considering the vagaries of high-stakes politics, Cafardi could be immersed in two worlds again. And if he ever needs a reminder of home, just to stay centered, he can always visit the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, a little gem, designed by a fellow Pittsburgher.
Joseph Sabino Mistick, a lawyer, law professor and political analyst, lives in Squirrel Hill (SabinoMistick@aol.com).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Keisel might be at end of Steelers career
- Penguins’ leads evaporate in loss to Sharks
- McKeesport middle school student struck by dump truck dies in hospital
- Sharks praise ex-teammate, newest Penguins player Goc
- Qualifications of Peduto nominee for building inspection chief come up short
- Suspect in East Liberty slayings may be part of murder-for-hire case
- New Pirates pitcher Eppley brings special delivery to team’s staff
- Westmoreland man’s walk in Niagara Falls State Park wasn’t allowed, police say
- LaBar: Bryan winning world title at WrestleMania 30 is only option
- Martin would consider extending stay with Pirates
- Judge to Cook Township drug suspect: Get new friends