For the first time in the history of church in the Church in the United States, a presently serving papal representative to our country and church has gone home to the Lord from these shores. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America died tonight as a result of complications arising after surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. I shall miss him and already I m0urn his departure deeply. He served the bishops and Catholics of this country very well. He served the bishops by speaking the truth in love to us often. When not quoting the Holy Father as nuncios must, in his own words he encouraged us, challenged us to be more open than perhaps we are and less iron-fisted. When left alone to his special task of recommending candidates for the office of bishop, he served the Church in this country extremely well. Archbishop Sambi would often plead with us to recommend to him good men for his consideration and would sometimes complain ever so gently that he was not always getting them. The US has one of the largest hierarchies in the world, perhaps second only to Italy and/or Brazil and not everyone can keep up with the work load which an appointment to Washington can require. So while being Nuncio to the United States might on the surface be a coveted position, it can also be challenging in many ways. And the nuncio to the United States often does not have the last word as to who should or should not be chosen by the Holy Father for the office of bishop.
He also served as the Ambassador of the Holy See to the government of the United States as well as Ambassador of the Holy See to the Organization of American States which is headquartered in Washington. Always genial, often with a great sense of humor, and given the opportunity, he would confide in us at times his solicitude for the faith in this country and his admiration for the faith of the people. I thought the world of him. So did Our Father in heaven who called him out of this world and into eternal life, unexpectedly, quickly, but lovingly I am sure. Rest in peace faithful servant of the Lord and of the Church. Many others and I will miss you terribly.