Monday, August 22, 2005

US Ambassador to the Vatican Nominee: Who Is This Guy?

The United States Ambassador nominee to the Vatican (or, more formally, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Holy See) is a veritable unknown in the Catholic world. Inside the Vatican was one of the first to report his nomination by the Bush administration back in April. It only became official when his nomination was sent to the US Senate a few weeks ago.

Everyone is asking: Who is this guy? Francis Rooney is CEO of Rooney Holdings, Inc., an investment and holding company based in Naples, Florida, with administrative offices in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Rooney Holdings emerged from nowhere to become one of the GOP's biggest donors during the last election, upping its campaign contributions from just $11,000 during the 2002 cycle to more than $500,000 in 2004. Thanks to his fund-raising efforts, Rooney himself was among the few individuals named as both a Bush Ranger, having raised at least $200,000 for the president's re-election, and a Super Ranger (among the elite donors who raised another $300,000 for the Republican National Committee). Rooney is the majority owner of Manhattan Construction Company, the fourth generation of his family to own that company. Manhattan Construction built the Oklahoma State Capitol, the George Bush Presidential Library, the Cato Institute headquarters, the Prayer Tower and other structures on the Oral Roberts University and is building part of the new visitors’ center at the United States Capitol. The subsidiary won an estimated $100 million in Pentagon contracts in 2003, nearly four times the amount the company won in 2002, according to the Center for Public Integrity. A Georgetown University and Georgetown Law graduate, Rooney is a member of the Advisory Board of the Panama Canal Authority. He was among the U.S. delegation led by Colin Powell to the inauguration of Panamanian president Martín Torrijos. Rooney and his wife have served on the board of many charitable organizations and he is a Knight of Malta.

Our sources tell us Rooney was very surprised to have received the Vatican nomination. Rooney expected to be named ambassador to a nation in Central or South America especially since he knows those regions so well from his vast business background (and being fluent in Spanish helps too). But Foggy Bottom wanted him for the Vatican. Our sources also tell us he has only met one cardinal in his entire lifetime: Ted McCarrick from DC. Rooney is not well schooled in the ways of Church uber-politics. Let's just hope he's a quick study and get's to know all the players very soon (if he's confirmed).


Blogger Jacob said...

This guy's company is based in Naples, Florida. Does he have anything to do with Fessio and Ave Maria down there or is that just coincidence?

6:25 PM  
Blogger vaticanisti said...

Good question. Rooney has never talked to Fessio. And the White House/SecState handlers have no intention of Rooney ever having the chance to meet Fessio before his confirmation.

6:52 PM  
Blogger Beasonlopes said...

I bet Jeb Bush had something to do with this.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Father McCarthy said...

I know Barron Collier Companies is building Ave Maria Town, Florida. Nothing about Rooney Holdings, Inc. Probably connected to Jeb Bush and not Father Fessio.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Father McCarthy said...

Here is the website for Rooney Holdings:

Here is the website of the Barron Collier Companies:

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Cathy said...

I believe Manhattan Construction is helping build the Clear Creek Monastery in Oklahoma.
It is also one of the few companies that actually gives Good Friday off.

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Fr. Totton said...

Manhattan Construction IS the general contractor for the construction of the Clear Creek Monastery! May the Lord help them that they may build a lasting foundation here!

Maybe BXVI can motivate the would-be ambassador to assist the monks in building their monastery. I think he has some fond connections with the Abbey at Fontgamboult.

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11:18 PM  

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