Born in Havana, Cuba, he moved as a child to the United States.
Until his appointment as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, he was a professor of theology at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota, and Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. He is a board member of the Catholic Theological Society of America and former president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States.
In recent years, he has participated in various ecumenical conversations.
He was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador on August 21st, 2009.
He is the first Hispanic to represent the United States at the Vatican.