US bishops' Rome college to honor Vatican ambassador Vigano, estate lawyer

by Joshua J. McElwee

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The U.S. bishops' seminary in Rome will honor the Vatican's ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Vigano, at an annual honors banquet in April.

Vigano, whose name surfaced last year in questions over how Pope Francis came to meet controversial Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis during his September U.S. trip, will be honored for being "so influential in the life of the College," according to an invitation for the event.

The Pontifical North American College will also be honoring California lawyer Timothy Busch, whose website describes him as specializing in "high net-worth estate planning," at its annual Rector's Dinner April 7. Busch is also co-founder of the Napa Institute, which focuses on defending Catholic principles in the public arena.

The College, which sits on a hill overlooking St. Peter's Basilica, is owned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and trains and forms many seminarians and priests from dioceses across the U.S., Canada and Australia.

The annual dinner is a high-profile event attracting donations for the seminary, with individual tickets starting at $450.

"The Rector's Dinner gives us the opportunity to gather as one community to celebrate our College and promote its noble cause," Fr. Peter Harman, the rector of the college, says in an invitation. "Truly, it is a great evening of celebration and joy and it is always an unforgettable experience."

Related: Napa Institute gathers US church's well-heeled and high-ranking devout

Vigano, who turned 75 in January, is expected to retire from his current role soon. Some have asked whether he might have been involved in making time in Francis' schedule during the pope's September U.S. visit to meet Davis, who has refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses. He has been the apostolic nuncio to the U.S. since October 2011.

The honorary chairmen of the North American College include Cardinals Raymond Burke, Daniel Di Nardo, Timothy Dolan, Bernard Law, William Levada, Roger Mahony, and Justin Rigali.

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

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