By Julie Asher
Catholic News Service
Archbishop Pietro Sambi, papal nuncio to the United States, “has been placed on assisted ventilation” since experiencing complications after he underwent “a delicate lung surgery” two weeks ago, according to the apostolic nunciature in Washington.
The ventilation is necessary “to attempt recovery of his lung function,” the nunciature said in an announcement released in the early evening July 22.
“The apostolic nunciature and the nuncio’s family kindly ask that bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful offer sacrifices and prayers for the health of the apostolic nuncio,” it said.
A veteran Vatican diplomat, Archbishop Sambi was named as papal nuncio to the U.S. by Pope Benedict XVI in December 2005. At the time of his appointment he was the Vatican’s representative to Israel and Palestine, where he helped arrange Pope John Paul II’s historic pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2000.
After he arrived in the U.S. Feb. 24, 2006, he said in an interview with Catholic News Service in Washington that that he was impressed by the vitality of U.S. Catholicism, the level of weekly Mass attendance among U.S. Catholics and their generosity toward others.
As a papal diplomat “I travel a lot throughout the world,” he said. “It is difficult to find a part of the world where the charity of U.S. Catholics did not reach the poor or sick people.”
The archbishop is known for his warm and affable manner, sense of humor and being open and ready to listen to people.
During Pope Benedict’s April 2008 visit to the U.S., Archbishop Sambi accompanied the pope and during the pontiff’s stay in Washington hosted him at the nunciature, where the pope had a historic private meeting with five victims of clergy sexual abuse.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops this evening posted the following advisory from the apostolic nunciature on the condition of Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican representative to the U.S.:
The Most Reverend Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio, underwent a delicate lung surgery two weeks ago. Unfortunately, there have been post-surgery complications. Currently he has been placed on assisted ventilation to attempt recovery of his lung function. The Apostolic Nunciature and the Nuncio’s family kindly ask that Bishops, priests, religious, and lay faithful offer sacrifices and prayers for the health of the Apostolic Nuncio.