Friday, July 22, 2011

Reports: Amid Transfer Talk, "Super-Nuncio" Gravely Ill

SVILUPPO (9.45pm): By day's end, the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington released a statement requesting "sacrifices and prayers" for Archbishop Sambi, and declining further comment.

Just last week, these pages relayed word of Archbishop Pietro Sambi's tipped return to Rome and -- in the footsteps of all but two of his predecessors -- a "cardinalatial post" at the end of his five-year stint as the Holy See's representative to the US.

In recent days, however, indications are that the situation has changed considerably, with the archbishop said to be gravely ill following surgery last week.

Late last week, the Vatican's Nuncio to Washington since 2006 was reported to be in guarded care at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore after a "radical" procedure on his lung, the complications of which were initially said to have left him unresponsive. More recently, with the colorful, candid diplomat remaining in intensive care, these last hours have brought word that Sambi's family has been called to his bedside from Italy, where the 73 year-old prelate celebrated his grand-niece's wedding in mid-June.

Having completed work on his final major appointment on these shores in early June, as a Stateside friend of the archbishop's remarked, Sambi "never worked in Rome," and didn't necessarily feel a significant a significant attachment to it. At the end of the day, "all he's wanted was Rimini" -- his hometown -- "and to retire to his family."

At this point, though, with the future said to be up in the air, prayers would seem well and much in order.

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The following was initially intended to be part of last week's post on the reported transfer of the "Super-Nuncio" from these shores, but as the recap of Sambi's eventful tenure ended up running too long on its own, it had to be laid aside for the moment.

Still, it's worth returning to -- that is, the archbishop's first major address to the US bishops, given in Baltimore during the 2006 November Meeting, which coincided with the rededication of the nation's first cathedral, the Premier See's Basilica of the Assumption.

A fitting "mission statement" of Rome's expectations for the future of the Stateside church -- and, indeed, Sambi's penchant for blunt talk -- here are those remarks in full: