Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the 75-year-old apostolic nuncio to the United States, said when he met Pope Francis at the Vatican Sept. 6, the pope asked him to remain in his post instead of retiring.
“He asked me to stay, so I stay as long as he wants. And I am happy to do so,” the archbishop told Catholic News Service.
At the top of the nuncio’s to-do list is helping the Holy See prepare for Joe Biden’s first presidential visit to the Vatican, while the president is in Rome for an Oct. 30-31 summit of leading rich and developed nations.
The archbishop confirmed the Biden-pope meeting indirectly: “It would be an anomaly if he did not meet the pope while in Rome,” especially since Biden is the first Catholic president in 58 years.
Despite a “tense situation because of the agenda of the Democratic Party on abortion,” Archbishop Pierre said he believes it will be a good meeting.
Onlookers must think beyond institutions to the people themselves: “These are two human beings with huge responsibilities trying to meet each other. They are not wooden figures. And behind them is a big machine — and the world.” So problematic matters will not be solved quickly, the diplomat said.
Meanwhile, the church is a major factor in American society, “very much present in all issues,” he said. “You have 80 million Catholics, the huge structure of the church, and the bishops are very active.”
The nuncio thinks polarization is one of the most difficult things facing the United States because “as long as you are polarized, you don’t find solutions.”
He says the church defends values without transforming its mission into an ideology.
Ideology quickly gives way to “cultural war,” which leads people to divide reality into those “with us” versus those “against us,” a simplistic framework that the nuncio calls “mystification,” because “reality is extremely complex.”
The church is called to preach the Gospel, advocate dialogue, and resist extremism, he said.