.- The new apostolic nuncio to the United States extended Pope Benedict’s love and greetings to the Catholic Church in America in his first address to the U.S. bishops since his Oct. 19 appointment.
“Despite the many challenges you may encounter today in modern society, the Holy Father is putting great hope in the Church in this country for the future of the Universal Church,” said Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò on Nov. 14.
The Pope’s new representative to the U.S. made his remarks to the country’s conference of bishops at their fall General Assembly in Baltimore. Archbishop Viganò told them he was looking forward to working with them and growing in friendship with them, and that their first meeting has brought him “deep joy.”
The nuncio said that Pope Benedict’s hope in the American Church presents “a very encouraging and challenging mandate.”
“I know that the Church has exercised a unique influence in the formation of American society,” he said.
“This nation, at its very core, maintains the very notion of trust in God.”
The archbishop also spoke about his predecessor, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, who died on July 27, 2011, after serving as apostolic nuncio to the United States since 2006.
The new nuncio reflected on Archbishop Sambi’s death, which he described as the “great loss of a good friend.”
He recalled Sambi’s “great love for the Church, particularly here in America.”
Archbishop Viganò also reflected on his new position and described the United States as a rich and diverse nation, “filled with vitality, with a spirit inherited from its forefathers.”
He invited the U.S. bishops to take part in the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict as an opportunity to explore the deep roots of the Catholic faith, and to do so with their eyes “fixed on Jesus.”
The nuncio thanked the bishops for their warm welcome and their continued prayers and good wishes as he begins his new mission in the United States.
As apostolic nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Viganò is the Holy Father’s personal representative to the country.
Ordained a priest in 1968, Archbishop Viganò entered the Holy See’s diplomatic service in 1973, serving in diplomatic missions to Iraq, Great Britain and the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France.
In addition, the archbishop served as the nuncio to Nigeria between 1992 and 1998, and has worked for over a decade in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.
His most recent position was as the second in command of the commission that runs the government of the Vatican city-state.