By David Kerr
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò is set to become the new papal nuncio to the United States, according to Vatican sources who asked to remain anonymous.
Archbishop Viganò will succeed Archbishop Pietro Sambi who died in July from complications that developed after he had a delicate lung surgery.
Archbishop Viganò, 70, is currently the second in command within the Governatorate of the Vatican City, the office in charge of many of the City State’s departments such as its police, observatory, museums, post office and tourist information service.
The Italian newspaper La Stampa this week claimed to have copies of the private correspondence confirming the appointment of Archbishop Viganò as nuncio to the U.S.
The paper reported that Archbishop Viganò made it clear to the Vatican’s Secretariat of State that he had no desire to be posted overseas, and that he preferred to remain in Rome.
The response came in a letter from the Vatican Secretary of State, dated Aug. 13, which informed Archbishop Viganò of Pope Benedict’s personal desire that he go to the U.S. It stated that the Pope wanted an experienced diplomat in charge of the Washington, D.C. nunciature during an election year in the U.S.
The newspaper reported that Archbishop Viganò would have preferred to take over from his immediate superior at the Governatorate of the Vatican City, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, who submitted his resignation to the Pope last year after turning 75. The cardinal’s resignation has not yet been accepted and no successor has been appointed.
Archbishop Carlo Mario Viganò is a native of the town of Varese in the northern Italian region of Lombardy. He was ordained a priest in 1968 and entered the Holy See’s diplomatic service in 1973. Since then he has served in the diplomatic missions to Iraq, the United Kingdom and the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France. He was nuncio to Nigeria between 1992 and 1998. He also worked in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State from 1978 to 1989. No date has yet been set for his arrival in Washington, D.C.
“We haven’t heard anything official yet so we can’t confirm an official time scale,” a spokesman for the nunciature told CNA on August 29.