State Appreciation Day, Part Deux
In addition to receiving all those nuncios this morning, Papa Bear named a new one as well -- and an American at that. The South Bend-born Fr. Michael Blume, 59, until now undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People, was elevated to the dignity of archbishop and appointed apostolic nuncio in Togo and Benin.
Blume's rise brings to five the number of American nuncios serving around the world -- archbishops all: Ambrose DePaoli in Australia, Philadelphia's own Ed Adams in Zimbabwe, the Clevelander Tim Broglio in the Dominican Republic, and the South Dakotan Tom Gullickson in the West Indies (Trinidad and Tobago, et. al.). There will soon be a sixth....
However, there are two unique markers about the Blume appointment; three, actually. The first is that Blume is a religious, a member of the Society of the Divine Word, and it's almost unheard of for a religious to reach the rank of nuncio. (The only other one I can think of is Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, a Missionary of St. Charles who also came out of Migrants and Itinerati and, after a stint as nuncio in Eritrea, is now the permanent observer to the UN at Geneva.)
Second, as opposed to most diplomatic postings, Blume already knows the lay of the land where he's going -- he was provincial of the Verbites in Ghana, Togo and Benin for seven years before becoming the order's secretary-general in Rome.
Third, and this is the big Benedictine surprise, BLUME IS NOT A DIPLOMAT! For a non-graduate of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy to get a nunciature is virtually unprecedented. As if it wasn't before, the Secretariat of State is officially in tumult at this news....
As I've been saying all along, prepare to be surprised. And send some Xanax down to San Damaso -- they could really use it right now.