WASHINGTON, D.C., DEC. 18, 2005 (ZENIT.org).- Benedict XVI has appointed Archbishop Pietro Sambi, up to now apostolic nuncio to Israel, as apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Archbishop Sambi, 67, succeeds Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, 75, who has held the post since 1998 and who stated age as the motive for his retirement. The Vatican press office announced the appointment Saturday.
Pietro Sambi was born in Sogliano sul Rubicone, Italy. He was incardinated in the Diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro and ordained a priest in March 1964. He has a doctorate in sacred theology and in canon law.
He started his service in the Diplomatic Corps of the Holy See in April 1969, in Cameroon.
He was transferred to the apostolic nunciature in Jerusalem in July 1971, and subsequently to the apostolic nunciatures in Cuba in 1974, in Algeria in 1978, in Nicaragua in 1979, in Belgium in 1981, and then in India in 1984, with the rank of counselor.
He was ordained as bishop in November 1985.
He was named pro-apostolic nuncio in Burundi in October 1985; pro-apostolic nuncio in Indonesia in November 1991; and apostolic nuncio in Israel and Cyprus, and apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine in June 1998.
Archbishop Sambi speaks Italian, English, French and Spanish.
A nuncio represents the Holy Father to both the hierarchy and Church of a particular nation and to that nation’s civil government.
Bishop William Skylstad, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, issued a welcoming statement.
“The bishops of the United States,” it said, “are pleased that the Holy Father has honored the Church in our country with the appointment of a nuncio with an extraordinary life of service to the Church in many areas of the world.
“Archbishop Sambi is very well known to the presidents and to many members of our episcopal conference because of our strong engagement with and support of the Church in the Holy Land over the years. We look forward to working with Archbishop Sambi and we are most grateful to Archbishop Montalvo for the great contributions he has made to the Church during the past seven years.”