Detailed obituary: Archbishop Sambi, US nuncio since early 2006, dies at age 73
Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the apostolic nuncio to the United States for more than five years, died tonight, apparently from complications of lung surgery performed approximately three weeks earlier.
Last Friday, the nunciature announced that the archbishop had been “placed on assisted ventilation to attempt recovery of his lung function” after undergoing “a delicate lung surgery two weeks ago.”
Archbishop Sambi was 73.
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.
(Contributing to this story was Julie Asher.)
BREAKING: We received word tonight that Archbishop Pietro Sambi has died. Last Friday night the apostolic nunciature in Washington announced that the archbishop “has been placed on assisted ventilation” since experiencing complications after he underwent “a delicate lung surgery” two weeks earlier.