While he is in Washington, D.C., Pope Benedict XVI will stay at the residence of the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi. The residence is called the apostolic nunciature.
The nuncio is the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States. (The United States and the Holy See have had full diplomatic relations since 1984.) Like other ambassadors, Archbishop Sambi represents the Holy See’s views on various issues to the U. S. government. In addition, he acts as a liaison between the Holy See and the Church in the United States. He announces the appointment of new bishops and often attends their ordination or installation as the Vatican’s representative. Since 2006, Archbishop Sambi has attended 35 such events!
The nuncio attends the semi-annual meetings of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and addresses the bishops at these meetings. In fact, Archbishop Sambi announced the Pope’s April 2008 visit at the November 2007 general meeting.
Archbishop Sambi is the second apostolic nuncio to the United States, succeeding Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo who served from 1998-2006. Prior to 1998, there were two apostolic pro-nuncios and 10 apostolic delegates. The first apostolic delegate to the United States was appointed in 1893.
Archbishop Sambi was born in Italy in 1938. He holds a doctorate in Sacred Theology and Canon Law. Before coming to the United States, he served in Cameroon, Jerusalem, Cuba, Algeria, Nicaragua, Belgium, India, Burundi, and Indonesia. He served as the apostolic nuncio in Israel and Cyprus and Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine from 1998 until his appointment to the United States in December 2005.
(CNS photo by Nancy Wiechec. Used with permission.)