Dolan: US church had ‘highest respect, deepest affection’ for nuncio
Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the apostolic nuncio to the United States since early 2006, “enjoyed the highest respect and deepest affection” of the U.S. bishops and the nation’s Catholics, said New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Archbishop Sambi, 73, died July 27 at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore apparently from complications of lung surgery performed approximately three weeks earlier.
On July 22, the apostolic nunciature in Washington announced that the archbishop had been “placed on assisted ventilation to attempt recovery of his lung function” two weeks after undergoing “a delicate lung surgery.”
“Archbishop Sambi understood and loved our nation,” Archbishop Dolan said in a statement July 28. “He traveled throughout the country, often to attend the ordination of bishops, always eager to meet the faithful, and to share with them the affection that the Holy Father has for them and their country.”
“He was open to the media as a conveyor of truth and welcomed journalists as representatives of the American people,” the USCCB president said. “He enjoyed everything from a stroll in the park near his residence in Washington to the diplomatic functions he attended as part of his service as the representative of the Holy See to the United States.”
Archbishop Dolan recalled “the indispensable role” the nuncio had during Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to the U.S. in 2008, saying he had “enabled our entire nation to see the wonderfully warm solicitude of the Holy Father for America.”
A veteran Vatican diplomat, Archbishop Sambi was named as papal nuncio to the U.S. by Pope Benedict XVI in December 2005. At the time of his appointment he was the Vatican’s representative to Israel and Palestine, where he helped arrange Pope John Paul II’s historic pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2000.
After he arrived in the U.S. Feb. 24, 2006, he said in an interview with Catholic News Service in Washington that that he was impressed by the vitality of U.S. Catholicism, the level of weekly Mass attendance among U.S. Catholics and their generosity toward others. [more]