Rocco is reporting that Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican Nuncio to the United States, is gravely ill having undergone surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. His family has been called from Italy to his bedside.
Sambi has been a great nuncio as reflected in the many appointments of sane, pastoral bishops during his tenure. His influence lessens with the prominence of the diocese to be filled, as is the case with all nuncios, so it is important to look at some of the appointments to smaller dioceses. I am partial to the appointments of Bishop John Barres to Allentown and Bishop Joe Tyson to Yakima, not least because they were classmates. Sambi helped ease Bishop Joseph Martino out of Scranton, a difficult and painful, but necessary, decision.
Sambi has also been a familiar, and invariably friendly, face in official Washington. I ran into him at Vice President Biden's Christmas party. He patiently waited in a long line to greet Vice President and Dr. Biden, even though he was hosting his own party that night. Sambi, E. J. Dionne and I went through the metal detectors together and I had to chase after the archbishop because he forgot his keys.
Sambi was also a fine preacher, and Rocco provides an example of his style, although it was not a sermon but an address to the bishops. We should all hope that this holy man recovers and lives many years.