'Sambi was at times put off by the seemingly monolithic focus of some American Catholic leaders on the "life issues"'
says NCR's Allen
......One cornerstone of a nuncio's job, of course, is to shape the appointment of a country's bishops. It's well known that Sambi didn't always get his way, but his influence was nevertheless considerable. Over the last six years, (Sambi was at times put off by the seemingly monolithic focus of some American Catholic leaders on the "life issues". has been someone who's unquestionably orthodox, but not a cultural warrior or an ideologue. [[Permit me to comment! This seems to be a search for the kind of Bishop who will have
'the faith' but no 'works' with which to back it up.]] ( (Sambi was at times put off by the seemingly monolithic focus of some American Catholic leaders on the "life issues". He once told me, "You have to be pro-life to be Catholic, but to be Catholic it's not enough to be pro-life.")
Ever the creature of the Accademia, the Vatican's elite school for diplomats, Sambi was the kind of guy who always hated to tip his hand. One of my last conversations with him came this spring, talking about the appointment of a new archbishop in Philadelphia. In typical fashion, when I asked him off the record what he was hearing about who might wind up in Philadelphia, he turned it around and asked: "Tell me, what are you hearing?"
Sambi, of course, was not without his critics. Like most diplomats, he was adept at shifting with the wind, and his penchant for answering questions with questions could leave people puzzled about what he was trying to say (which, in some cases, was probably intentional). It was also sometimes hard to figure out exactly where Sambi stood with the home office in Rome, and whether what he was telling you truly reflected the thinking either in the Secretariat of State or the papal apartment......
Allen's article is not written "to trash" the Nuncio but to explain a much admired friend. In this, Allen probably comes closer to presenting a clear picture of what the Archbishop was all about, than some of the eulogies delivered by conservatives.
Some conservatives credit the Nuncio with having been a straight talker, and/or a willing booster of the Church's pro-life activists. John Allen says Archbishop Sambi was neither.