A friend and counsellor

By Harry Hagopian
August 5, 2011

Every now and then, a person enters our lives and leaves a strong imprint. The high-profile global evangelical leader John Stott has been much commented on since his recent death. But there are other figures, less immediately identifiable in media terms, who help change the world for the better.

One such person was Archbishop Pietro Sambi, with whom I held many conversations during our shared time in the Holy Land. His keen sense of diplomacy, his pastoral sense, his quest for unity amongst the churches, let alone his ready smile and even readier cigarettes, are remembrances that cannot be expunged easily.

In fact, he was the man who introduced me to Pope John Paul II for the first time, an introduction that led to a vibrant relationship with the Vatican during my years with the Middle East Council of Churches as well as the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee and Oslo negotiations. It also ultimately led to a knighthood.

This amiable and energetic man passed away from complications following lung surgery, and a summary of his rich life can be found on CNS at http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1102991.htm

Requiescat in Pace, friend and counsellor.


© Harry Hagopian is an international lawyer, ecumenist and EU political consultant. He also acts as a Middle East and inter-faith advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and as Middle East consultant to ACEP (Christians in Politics) in Paris. He is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/HarryHagopian). Formerly an Executive Secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee and Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches, he is consultant to the Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide (UK) and author of The Armenian Church in the Holy Land. Dr Hagopian’s own website is www.epektasis.net

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