Tuesday, April 04, 2006

US Nuncio Green-Lights Bishops' Immigration Appeal

The new apostolic nuncio to Washington, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, sat for an interview with Catholic News Service yesterday, shirking comment on "internal" issues and listing as his priorities "to be an instrument of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, to defend life and the dignity of every human person, to find a way of peace with justice in the world."

Sambi, who was appointed to represent the Holy See in the United States by Pope Benedict XVI last December, also indicated that he is "happy the Catholic bishops are really outspoken" in their opposition to the immigration measures currently before Congress.
In his previous posting Archbishop Sambi, who speaks Italian, English, French and Spanish, was the Vatican representative to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Asked about his views on peace in the Middle East and the U.S. role there, he said, "I come with a deep conviction that peace in Jerusalem means peace in a great part of the world."

Noting that Jerusalem is a holy city to Jews, Christians and Muslims, he said, "If there the Jewish, Christian and Muslim civilizations will learn to accept each other, to respect each other and to collaborate for the best, there will be peace in all parts of the world where these three civilizations have influence." ....

When questioned about responding to the cultural upheavals in the United States over issues with moral dimensions such as abortion and same-sex marriage, he addressed the question in terms of what it means to be Catholic.

"I don't like to speak inside the Catholic Church about liberal or conservative, but about people faithful to Jesus Christ and to his church," he said. "The church has been established by Our Lord to continue the mystery of the salvation of human beings. It is not your invention, it is not my invention. To be faithful to the church means to accept the lordship of Jesus Christ over your life. ... The question of the church is not only a question of culture, it is a question of the Gospel."

He summarized the church's vitality in three principles:

-- "First, have a clear identity, what it means to be Christian and Catholic.

-- "Second, have a strong sense of belonging. Your community needs you and you need your community. (The one) who is walking alone will be lost.

-- "Third, quantity is not the (only) way to emerge and have influence in society. Exceptional quality is the best way to have influence."
And there, in a nutshell, you have the new criteria for episcopal appointments in the US.