B16 received Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the apostolic nuncio in the United States, yesterday at the close of the general audience. As a Roman hand jested, "They didn't put 'in visita di congedo' on it," using the Holy See's parlance for the farewell visits of the diplomats accredited to it.
But it wouldn't have been out of place. Montalvo turned 75 early this year, and the CDF Pope has been replacing recently superannuated diplomats at a steady clip. The best example was his next visitor - Archbishop Mounged El-Hachem, the newly-nominated mission chief in the Arabian Peninsula. El-Hachem was named to his post last month, succeeding Archbishop Giuseppe DeAndrea, a naturalized American who turned 75 earlier this year.
Was it a cautionary tale?
Combine Montalvo's age and the propensity of new Popes of the last 50 years to quickly install mission chiefs palatable to their tastes in Washington (Archbishop Jadot, anyone?), and you have a double bubble just waiting to pop.
Who knows the length of days?