Pope's Representative in US Dies at 73

Archbishop Pietro Sambi Had Americans’ «Highest Respect and Deepest Affection»

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 28, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The apostolic nuncio to the United States died Wednesday in Baltimore after complications arose following a lung surgery two weeks ago.

Archbishop Pietro Sambi was 73. A funeral will be held Aug. 6, the feast of the Transfiguration, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called Archbishop Sambi a friend of the United States.

«As the personal representative of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Sambi enjoyed the highest respect and deepest affection of the bishops of the United States and of our Catholic people,» Archbishop Dolan said in a statement today.

Archbishop Sambi was appointed U.S. nuncio, or ambassador, in December 2005 by Benedict XVI. Prior to the U.S. appointment, Pope John Paul II had named him nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine in 1998. The appointment made him only the second Vatican ambassador to Israel, after the Vatican and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1994.

Pietro Sambi was a native of central Italy and was ordained a priest in 1964. He was named an archbishop and nuncio to Burundi in 1985, a position he held for six years until being named nuncio to Indonesia.

Before the Pope’s visit to the United States in 2008, the archbishop said the Holy Father was coming to «strengthen the faith, the hope and love of the Catholic Church in the United States.» He added that he hoped the Pope’s visit would «bring a new wind of Pentecost … a new springtime» to the Church in the United States. 

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