The US Ambassador to Malta, Douglas Kmiec said today that criticism of his activities in an audit by the inspector-general of the State Department reflected hostility toward expressions of his religious faith by some officials of the department.

The report, issued yesterday, criticised mr Kmiec for Kmiec too much time writing and speaking about subjects such as abortion and his religious beliefs, while neglecting ambassadorial duties.

Kmiec said that he would not apologize for how he has conducted himself in the job.

"I must say that I am troubled and saddened that a handful of individuals within my department in Washington seem to manifest a hostility to expressions of faith and efforts to promote better interfaith understanding," Kmiec said in an e-mailed statement to The Times. "Our constitution proudly protects the free exercise of religion - even for ambassadors."

Kmiec said the criticism of his religious views was "especially odd" because his friendship with President Obama began out of a common view that "too much of politics had been used to divide us, sometimes by excluding people of faith."

Kmiec, 59, said his work was part of Obama's efforts to promote understanding among different religions, and that he'll stay on as ambassador as long as he has the president's confidence.

The ambassador drew strong support in Malta, as seen in comments to

See report details on

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