Wednesday, October 19, 2011

At Long Last, Viganò = US Nuncio

Months in the rumor-mill, yet conspicuously delayed amid very credible reports of a Vatican power struggle, at this Roman Noon the move is finally official: Pope Benedict has named Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò as his ambassador to the United States in the footsteps of the late, lamented "Super-Nuncio" Pietro Sambi.

With the appointment, the 70 year-old veteran of the Roman Curia -- whose lone previous posting as a mission-chief came in Nigeria from 1992-98 -- becomes the 14th papal legate to these shores since the Holy See's establishment of a diplomatic presence in Washington in 1893. Upon the presentation of his credentials to President Obama, Viganò will be the fifth prelate to serve as the Vatican's emissary to both the nation's church and government since bilateral relations were accepted in 1984.

Even from its earlier erection, however, the DC assignment has come to be seen as one of Vatican diplomacy's "Big Four" postings, alongside those to Rome, Paris and, in time, the United Nations.

And there's more still -- likewise today, B16's tapped Msgr David Kagan, 60, vicar-general of Rockford and pastor of the Illinois diocese's largest parish, as bishop of Bismarck.

The runner-up for general secretary of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops at last year's turnover of the Mothership's helm, the bishop-elect succeeds Bishop Paul Zipfel, who reached the retirement age of 75 in September 2010, at the helm of western North Dakota's 60,000-member church.

As ever, more to come.