Pope Francis appoints Cebuano archbishop as envoy to Guatemala
MANILA, Philippines – Pope Francis appointed a Cebuano archbishop and long-time church diplomat as the Holy See’s new ambassador to Guatemala, the Vatican announced on Friday evening, April 17.
Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, the newly appointed apostolic nuncio to Guatemala, is a 66-year-old native of Cebu City.
Before this appointment, Padilla was apostolic nuncio to Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. He was also apostolic delegate to the Arabian Peninsula.
Born in Cebu City on September 17, 1953, Padilla is the 10th of 13 children of Cebuano parents, according to the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia. His father is from Argao and his mother from Borbon.
Padilla finished elementary at the Colegio de Santo Niño de Cebu and trained for the priesthood at the Pope John XIII Minor Seminary in Cebu City. He took up philosophy at Cebu’s Seminario Mayor de San Carlos. He later studied theology at the University of Santo Tomas Central Seminary in Manila.
Ordained a priest in 1976, Padilla has served the diplomatic service of the Holy See in various capacities since 1985.
Padilla is the Pope’s latest high-profile appointee from the Philippines. The appointment comes a year before the Philippines celebrates the 500th year of Christianity in the country.
In December 2019, Francis promoted the former archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Imus, Cavite, to become part of what can be considered his 9-person Cabinet. Tagle is now prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples at the Vatican.
In October 2019, the Pope named a Boholano archbishop, Bernardito Cleopas Auza, as the Vatican’s new ambassador to Spain. Auza was formerly the Vatican’s ambassador to the United Nations,
Filipino church leaders have celebrated this appointment by Auza because Spain was the country that brought Christianity to the Philippines – a sign that Christianity this part of the world has gone full circle since 1521.
Other Filipinos in top positions in the Catholic Church include Bicolano priest Father Gerard Francisco Timoner III, who in July 2019 became the first Asian master of the Order of Preachers, better known as the Dominican Order. The Dominican Order is one of the most influential groups of Catholic priests around the world, running institutions such as the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in the Philippines. – Rappler.com