The US Catholic hierarchy and the pope’s man in Washington

(La Croix. Robert Mickens, Editor at La Croix International)

It has now been eight years since the pope appointed Christophe Pierre as apostolic nuncio to the United States. It was April 12, 2016 when Francis chose the lifelong Holy See diplomat, then serving as his ambassador to Mexico, to take up the post in Washington. The French archbishop was already 70 years old and most observers surmised that he’d be in the US capital for no more than the five years it would take him to reach the normal retirement age for bishops (even if papal diplomats have the option of stepping down at 70).

Heading the Holy See’s nunciature to the United States has long been seen as a plum post. Though there have been a couple of notable exceptions, the pope’s man in Washington usually returns to the Vatican after several years of service, where he is given another prestigious position and made a cardinal. But in Pierre’s case, the red hat arrived last September when he was still the Holy See’s ambassador to the United States. And to this day, the cardinal-nuncio, already 78 years of age, remains on the job.

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