Wednesday, January 17, 2007

From the Diplo Desk

Yesterday, in an appointment that seemed to pass relatively quietly, the Pope named Msgr Leo Boccardi, the Holy See's chief of mission to the UN offices in Vienna and the Vatican delegation to the world bodies dealing with atomic energy and European security, as the new apostolic nuncio in Sudan. Boccardi, 53, was simultaneously elevated to the rank of archbishop.

For a first-time nuncio, Sudan is a tall order of an assignment. The genocide in the Darfur, in the country's west, is said to have claimed over 400,000 lives over the last four years, and displaced even more from their homes and families.

In his annual state of the world address last week to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, Darfur was the first place Benedict XVI spoke of in the traditional papal summary of geopolitical hotspots. Calling for a spirit of "active cooperation" able to "achieve results" in finding a solution to the violence, the Pope "invite[d] all those concerned to act with determination.

"We cannot accept that so many innocent people continue to suffer and die in this way," he said.

The task of putting heft and cooperation behind those words is the task that awaits Boccardi.