In Service to the Apostolic Nunciature

December 28, 2015

In service to the Apostolic Nunciature Father Michael McCormack, O.P., has been serving on the staff of the Apostolic Nunciature to the United States since 2009. Dominicans have served as local staff for the Apostolic Nunciature and its predecessor, the Apostolic Delegation, in Washington, since 1922. The Holy See (the Office of the Holy Father), as distinguished from Vatican City, over which the Holy See has  sovereign authority and jurisdiction, has long been recognized as a subject of international law and as an active participant in international relations. Since the fifth century, papal envoys, now known as Apostolic Nuncios, have represented the Holy See and the Holy Father to governments and sovereigns of nations. Currently the Holy See has diplomatic relations with 180 countries and the European Union as well as representation at the United Nations.  The Holy See also participates in various international organizations and programs. Additionally, papal representatives known not as nuncios but as apostolic delegates ensure contact between the Holy See and the local Catholic Church in countries that do not have diplomatic relations with the Holy See. The first Apostolic Delegate for the United States was appointed in 1893. President Franklin Roosevelt appointed a personal representative to the Holy See in 1939, a practice which continued through the administration of President Jimmy Carter.  Ronald Reagan established formal diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1984.  The United States has an ambassador to the Holy See and the current Apostolic Nuncio is the Most Reverend Carlo Maria Viganò. In the United States, there are 178 Latin Catholic archdioceses/dioceses; 17 Eastern Catholic archdioceses/dioceses; one Apostolic Exarchate for the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church; and one Personal Ordinariate (Anglican) of the Chair of St Peter. Dominican Father Thomas Raphael Gallagher is the longest serving local staff member of the then Apostolic Delegation from 1948 until 1979. Since 2009, Fr. Michael McCormack, O.P. has served there. “I assist the Nuncio in his service to the Church in the United States.  The Nuncio is the personal representative of the Holy Father and he makes present the pastoral ministry of the successor of Peter.” Fr. Michael’s work keeps him intimately familiar with the Church in America. “I have come to appreciate the local Dioceses.  The Church in the United States is diverse ethnically, geographically, and socio-economically.  Although there are challenges in every place, there is a distinct vitality and holiness in each local Church.”  He considers this assignment to be a unique blessing: “It is a great privilege to serve the Church in the United States in this way.” A highlight of his ministry was the recent visit of Pope Francis.  “The presence of the Holy Father enlivened the Church in the United States and I think he appreciated very much how the Catholic Church contributes to the society and communities in the United States.”  There was great excitement in all the cities the Pope visited and particularly at the Nunciature:  “It was thrilling for the staff because it was the place where he stayed while in Washington.  I met him several times and was formally introduced to the Holy Father by the Nuncio.”

Image: Fr. Michael McCormack, O.P., with the Most Reverend Carlo Maria Viganò, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

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