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Online Edition - February 2006
Vol. XI, No. 10

News & Views

Archbishop Sambi Is New US Papal Nuncio | CDW, Pope, Correct Neocatechumenal Novelties | New Secretary at CDW

Archbishop Sambi Is New US Papal Nuncio

Archbishop Pietro Sambi was appointed apostolic nuncio to the United States on December 18, 2005, by Pope Benedict XVI.

Since 1998, Archbishop Sambi had served as apostolic nuncio in Israel and Cyprus, and apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine. He succeeds Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, who was apostolic nuncio to the United States from 1998 until his retirement in December 2005.

Archbishop Sambi was born in Italy in 1938, ordained in 1964, received doctorates in sacred theology and in canon law, and entered the Holy See’s Diplomatic Corps in 1969. He served in the nunciatures of Cameroon, Cuba, Algeria, Nicaragua, Belgium and India before he was ordained bishop in 1985. He then served as pro-nuncio in Burundi and Indonesia before beginning his service in Israel.

The papal nuncio serves as the official diplomatic representative of the pope to both the Church and civil government of a nation. In 1984, the Vatican’s delegation to the United States was elevated to a nunciature, that is, an office having ambassadorial status. (From the Latin nuntius, an envoy or messenger.) The nunciature’s office is in Washington, DC. Address:

His Excellency, Archbishop Pietro Sambi
Apostolic Nuncio to the United States
3339 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington, DC, 20008

***

CDW, Pope, Correct Neocatechumenal Novelties

The Vatican Information Service reported January 12 that Pope Benedict XVI received a group from the Neocatechumenal Way, including 200 families embarking on evangelizing missions in various countries.

The Neocatechumenal Way, whose constitutions were approved in 2002 by Pope John Paul II, was founded in 1986 by Spaniards Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez, and the Italian priest Mario Pezzi.

In his message to the group, Pope Benedict stressed the importance of the liturgy in evangelization: an “indispensable way to build vibrant and lasting Christian communities”.

He also stressed that corrective norms concerning the Neocatechumenal Way’s celebration of the Eucharist must be observed. These norms were contained in a letter from Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW), “in keeping with the guidelines issued in the meeting with you on November 11 of this year, I am to inform you of the Holy Father’s decisions”.

This letter, dated December 1, mentioned abuses and novel practices of the Neocatechumenal Way, such as its celebrating Masses on Saturday evening in small groups of 20-30 gathered around tables for Communion.

“In the celebration of the Holy Mass, the Neocatechumenal Way will accept and follow the liturgical books approved by the Church without omitting or adding anything”, the letter began. It provided corrective norms for several problems, and said that Neocatechumenal communities are to join the rest of the parish at least once a month for Sunday Mass.

The letter also stated: “The Neocatechumenal Way will be granted a transition period (not exceeding two years) from the common method of receiving Holy Communion in its communities (seated, using a decorated table placed at the center of the church instead of the dedicated altar in the sanctuary) to the manner in which the entire Church receives Holy Communion. This means that the Neocatechumenal Way must move toward the manner foreseen in the liturgical books for the distribution of the body and blood of Christ”.

A spokesman for the Neocatechumenal Way in the US responded to the directives, suggesting that Cardinal Arinze’s letter was intended as an endorsement of the group’s practices. Giuseppe Gennarini, who is responsible for Neocatechumenal communities in the United States, told Catholic News Service in Rome December 29, “The most important thing about the letter is that it allows certain liturgical adaptations”.

Gennarini also told CNS that he believed that their novel practice of distributing Communion would be reviewed again after the two-year transition period.

In his January 12 message, however, Pope Benedict made it clear that the changes outlined in Cardinal Arinze’s letter are not optional:

“I am sure that you will attentively observe these norms, which are based on liturgical texts approved by the Church. By faithful adherence to all Church directives, you will render your apostolate even more effective, in harmony and full communion with the pope and the pastors of dioceses”.

Compiled from various media reports, (including Vatican Information Service, www.Chiesa, and Catholic News Service)

***

New Secretary at CDW

Sri Lankan Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, 58, was appointed as secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, the Vatican announced December 10, 2005. In 2004, Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith was appointed apostolic nuncio to Indonesia and East Timor, and had served at the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples since 2001.

In July 2004, Archbishop Ranjith wrote an article published by L’Osservatore Romano that strongly supported Redemptionis Sacramentum.

In this article he commented that among “the negative effects of the liturgical reform is the arbitrary spirit eager for experimentation and adventure that has guided certain sectors of the Church, especially at the height of the reform.

“At that time [after the Second Vatican Council] everything seemed acceptable”, Archbishop Ranjith observed. “The dominant trend was to experiment with all aspects of the celebration. [Some were] a reaction to formalism or even to the authority of the Holy See.

“A reform based on such considerations cannot be effective or valid. Intense faith and great love for the Church alone must animate every reform, and especially a liturgical reform”, the archbishop wrote.

The secretary of a Vatican congregation is the second in authority to the prefect. Archbishop Ranjith succeeds Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino, who had been appointed archbishop of Assisi in November.

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