Mary Ann Glendon resigned last month from the board of First Things in order, she said, to clear herself of all commitments before beginning work for the U.S. government.

It seemed an unreasonable trade to me—I mean, an ambassador rather than a First Things board member?—but she decided to do it, and after some news reports of agitation and delay, the Senate on Friday confirmed her as ambassador to the Holy See. It’s an astonishingly good appointment in this last year of the Bush administration and a deserved tribute to our friend, whose work representing the United States to the Vatican should produce first-rate results.