Friday, November 16, 2007

Father-General: Nuncio's Four-Star Homecoming

It's already been implied below, but as word's coming in from ecclesiastical bases on multiple continents, here goes.

As soon as Monday, Pope Benedict is expected to name Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the Cleveland-born apostolic nuncio in the Dominican Republic and papal delegate to Puerto Rico, as the new head of the archdiocese for the Military Services USA (AMS) and its fold of 1.4 million Catholics.

Not even seven weeks after Archbishop Edwin O'Brien -- the military's shepherd of a decade -- was installed in the Premier See of Baltimore, the homecoming of the 55 year-old veteran diplomat, a former chief of staff to the Secretary of State, would come with a speed unseen in recent times for an American appointment. The rapid pace of the succession process would seem to signal the import with which the Holy See holds the pastoral care of the nation's armed services spread across the globe, but would also match the DC-based post with a prelate keenly aware of the Vatican's oft-critical views of American policy, both at home and abroad.

An alumnus of Boston College, where he earned his bachelor's in classical studies, Broglio was ordained in Rome in 1977. In 1983, he entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See. Following tours of duty in the Ivory Coast and Paraguay, he was recalled to the immediate service of the Secretariat of State's "Second Section," commonly known as the Vatican's "foreign ministry." In 2001, after five years as then-Cardinal-Secretary Angelo Sodano's top personal aide, Broglio was elevated to the episcopacy and named to the Caribbean posting, his first as a mission chief.

While the relative intimacy of his current brief has allowed the archbishop to function as both pastor and ambassador, the native Ohioan's foreseen return to the "military ordinariate" would continue the rise in the post's profile and prominence.

Only spun off from the oversight of the archbishops of New York in 1985, previous heads of the worldwide charge were drawn from the diocesan ranks. A Big Apple auxiliary at the time of his 1996 transfer to the post, O'Brien enjoyed wide recognition as a former rector of the Pontifical North American College. In a shattering of tradition, Broglio would be the first chief pastor of the forces without New York ties, but would continue the trend of giving AMS to a trusted Roman hand; the Holy See named O'Brien to supervise the 2005-6 apostolic visitation of US seminaries.

Staff at the archdiocese's new headquarters in Washington's Brookland section have been given the "clean-desk and full-dress" alert in anticipation for "a special guest" arriving on Monday morning at 10am. Earlier this week in Baltimore, the annual AMS dinner -- invariably a marquee event on the USCCB plenary's social calendar -- drew about 40 bishops and a horde of chaplains.

PHOTO: Paver Arias/El Viajero