In principle, the appointment of Kmiec should be no more or less insulting to either the Vatican (as a state governed by the Catholic church) or to the Pope (as head of the Catholic church) than the appointment of any other Catholic. Very obviously, Kmiec’s appointment might be construed as an insult to a particular (and quite powerful) conservative faction within Catholicism but in the absence of a formal church statement to the contrary, that faction’s opinion of Kmiec’s position is no more binding than any other opinion within Catholicism’s internal debate on these issues.
Now there certainly is a prudential issue to the extent that the Pope is (as he likely is) highly sympathetic to the conservative faction, Kmiec’s appointment might not be politically well-judged. But that’s an entirely different question to that of whether Kmiec’s appointment would be an insult to the church, which is what I understand Steve’s position to be. By the church’s own rules, I simply don’t see any grounds for judgment that Kmiec is a better or worse Catholic than any other person, and hence I don’t see where the insult lies. But perhaps there is something I’m not getting here.
Nope, you're right, Henry, in principle, but Benedict sees abortion as the central crime of our time. A theocon Pope is unlikely to be hapy with the pro-life anti-theocon, Kmiec. Still, there's surely close to zero chance of this panning out. Michael Sean Winters is just winding them up.