Vatican nuncio to U.S. Archbishop Sambi dies

Detailed obituary: Archbishop Sambi, US nuncio since early 2006, dies at age 73

Reaction: US church had ‘highest respect, deepest affection’ for nuncio

Italian Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, is pictured at the nunciature in Washington in a 2008 file photo. He died July 27 after being placed on assisted ventilation following complications from lung surgery. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

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.

Archbishop Sambi greets guests at a papal audience at the Vatican last year. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Archbishop Sambi greets guests at a papal audience at the Vatican last year. (CNS/Paul Haring)

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.

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15 Responses to Vatican nuncio to U.S. Archbishop Sambi dies

  1. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let Perpetual Light Shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

  2. charly says:

    We will miss this man of faith-hope-and love and of course great wisdom. May eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord. Bless his soul.

  3. may this truly fine servant of god rest in peace, thank you for your faithful service Archbishop Sambi, the Church will miss you

  4. Arthur COnnolly says:

    My impression of Archbishop Sambi, from seeing him frequently on EWTN, is that he was a very pious and gentle, holy man. It was rumored that Archbishop Sambi was returning to Rome for a positon in one of the Congregations and possibly a red hat from Pope Benedict for the Archbishop’s many years of priestly service. God has interviened and granted Archbishop Sambi the ultimate reward, a place by God’s side. Rest in Peace Archbishop Sambi.

  5. FR. FRED OGAMBI says:


  6. lisa says:

    RIP Archbishop. The Father has you now.

  7. E’ stato un grande uomo, appassionato per la Chiesa e per la Terra Santa. Nel 2002 fu tra gli artefici della soluzione pacifica dell’assedia alla Nativita’ a Betlemme. RIP

  8. James and Louise Hunt says:

    St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus Christ and true spouse of the Virgin Mary, pray for us and for the dying of this day. May Archbishop Sambi rest in peace. James and Louise Hunt, members of the Pauline Holy Family Institute.

  9. Linda Ferraro says:

    We will miss seeing Arachbishop Sambi on EWTN’s coverage of special Masses. May God bless his good soul.

  10. Lucinda Hanna says:

    You are in your Father’s House now, dear Archbishop Sambi.

  11. frjimt says:

    When my classmate and friend, Bishop Ed Burns, was installed as bishop of Juneau, Alaska, the Nuncio came out to Juneau for the ceremony. Two reasons: to be present with the new bishop and his family as he became shepherd of the juneau diocese & to visit the grave of a priest from the nuncio’s home town that he remembered from his childhood!

    That shows you what type of man this man of God was like.
    Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, & let perpetual light shine upon him!
    May his soul and the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace.

  12. Ray Dubuque says:

    My guess is that when Jesus preached the parable which OTHERS call the parable of “the good Samaritan” , his audience was shocked at the way Jesus portrayed the “men of God” – which is why I prefer to think of this sermon as the parable of the lousy clerics”. Where Archbishop Sambi is concerned, if Jesus judges him on the basis of the way he treated “the least of his brothers”, as opposed to the way he acted when he was on stage, before large audiences or before TV cameras, will he judge him a great man, as he is being portrayed here, or will the prophecy of Isaiah Ch. 32 be fulfilled? “In those days … the smooth tricks of evil men will be exposed, as will all the lies they use to oppress the poor in the courts. But good men will be generous to others and will be blessed of God for all they do.”
    This Nuncio may have been better than others, but ever since Sambi became the Papal Nuncio in 2005, he has been aware of an elderly gentleman who has been spending about 4 hours most every day of the year since 1998 demanding that the church face up to its responsibilities to the sexual abuse of its children by its priests. John claims to have been such a victim himself in 1958, when he was just 15.
    Google “Sambi Wojnowski” to see the way this man says he was abused verbally by an archbishop, after having been abused sexually by a priest .
    God alone may know whose telling the truth, but God help Sambi if it’s Wojnowski !
    John’s web site :

  13. Dr. Mary Conley says:

    Archbishop Sambi ~ you kept me in the Catholic Church and faithful during the continuing “scandals.” You taught faith through gentleness and always showed how God loves us, but mostly God’s Divine Mercy over all of us. I will pray for you in my nightly prayers and know that you are in God’s arms, for it is not up to us to be judgmental, it is up to God. I love you! Dr. Mary C.

  14. John M says:

    Frequently watching Archbishop Sambi on EWTN celebrate mass at Shrine of Immaculate Conception or installation ceremony like 2009 in St. Patricks Cathedral, was very uplifting. Hew was gentle and faithful servant of God. Will miss him dearly. Will pray for you . Since he administered the mysteries of forgiveness and love faithfully, now may
    you rejoice with God forever.

  15. Orlando J. Chils says:

    You are free now old friend, I will miss you…

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