Archbishop Pietro Sambi, papal nuncio to the United States, died on July 27. He was 73 years old. Several weeks ago, Sambi underwent “delicate” lung surgery and was placed on “assisted ventilation” when complications arose afterward, according to a July 22 announcement from the apostolic nunciature in Washington. Archbishop Sambi’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday, August 6—the feast of the Transfiguration—at the Basilica of the National Shine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Pope Benedict XVI named the career Vatican diplomat as nuncio to the United States in December 2005. At the time of the appointment, Sambi was the Vatican's representative to Israel and Palestine, where he helped coordinate Pope John Paul II’s historic pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2000. Upon arrival in the United States, Sambi said in an interview with CNS 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.”