Not only does Klink bring ten years of field experience working with refugees for Catholic Relief Services, he also understands the politics of population control that have festered through the State Department and United Nations for the past eight years.
Since 1987, Klink has served as a Vatican diplomat at the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, working closely with Archbishop Renato R. Martino at 17 UN Conferences, including Cairo and Beijing. He has worked tirelessly, and pro-bono, to promote a pro-life and pro-family agenda at the UN at a time when his best allies were the Moslem countries of the Middle East.
The population politics of the State Department under President Clinton were epitomized by Timothy Wirth, former Undersecretary for Global Affairs, famous for the bowl of condoms on top of his desk. Wirth now runs the foundation administering Ted Turner's money at the United Nations, presumably doing all he can do to promote contraception and abortion around the world.
Klink is a native of Wyoming who lives in Santa Barbara with his wife Pat and two children. Together the Klinks have run a private investment company for several years, first in New York City before moving the family and business to California.
Nominating Klink for this sensitive position in the State Department is consistent with President Bush's announcing his support, on January 22, of the Mexico City policy banning American aid to international organizations that promote abortions.
A New York Times article (May 24, 2000) written by Jane Perlez about the Klink appointment underlined Klink's close relations with the Vatican and his work for Catholic Relief Services. Perlez' highlighting of Klink's religious ties and motivation seems to have added a spark of controversy to her article, eliciting words of alarm from the ubiquitous Frances Kissling of Catholics for a Free Choice and Amy Coen, the president of Population Action International.
Catholics can remember the day, not so long ago, when John F. Kennedy's credentials for the nation's highest office were questioned because of his Catholic faith. We can only hope that this sort of crude nativism will not reappear. Many distinguished persons who have worked for religious denominations, even as ordained ministers, have made historic contributions to our public life. Where would this country be without the work of, say, the Rev. Martin Luther King?
What clearly qualifies John Klink for this office, however, is not simply his pro-family perspective: Klink has hands-on experience with refugees in places like Haiti, Yemen, and Thailand. As Program Director of Catholic Relief Services, he supervised a staff of 1600 persons who were responsible for the care of over 40,000 Cambodian, Hmong & Vietnamese refugees during the Cambodian crisis in the early 1980's.
Those who know John Klink can attest to his diplomatic skills and his ability to get along with people of all political and ideological persuasions. He has a caring heart and the credentials to prove he knows how to put compassion into practice. It is this combination of qualities that made him the president's choice for this strategic post.