"I am honored to have the opportunity to represent the U.S. Congress and Illinois' 3rd Congressional District at the investiture of Pope Francis," Lipinski said in a statement. "As a Catholic, this is especially meaningful to me. Pope Francis has demonstrated both humility and strength. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide him as he leads the world's 1.2 billion Catholics."
Vatican analyst John Allen reported this year that Vatican diplomats have their sights set on a number of Catholic scholars and politicians, including Lipinski, a socially conservative Democrat who opposes abortion rights and the health care mandate.
Lipinski told the Tribune he has not been offered the job but would welcome consideration.
The U.S. ambassador to the Holy See confers with the Vatican on matters of foreign policy. The U.S. relies on the Vatican to emphasize common values in countries where Washington does not have as much influence.
Nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, ambassadors report to the secretary of state. Beginning in 1933, several presidents tapped a liaison to the church in Rome, but the U.S. did not establish official diplomatic relations with the Vatican until 1984. Since then, the appointee has always been Catholic.
The nomination is especially challenging for Democratic presidents because of the party's difficult relationship with the Catholic hierarchy in recent times.
Lipinski will travel with a House delegation including Reps. Chris Smith, R-N.J.; Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.; Sean Duffy, R-Wis.; Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.; Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.; Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas; Jim Langevin, D-R.I.; and Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif.