Pope names Bicolano as envoy to Australia

Paterno Esmaquel II
Pope names Bicolano as envoy to Australia
Born in Naga, the new apostolic nuncio to Australia is 67-year-old Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana

MANILA, Philippines – Months after he named a Filipino as the Vatican’s envoy to the United Nations (UN), Pope Francis named another bishop from the Philippines to another key position, as apostolic nuncio or ambassador to Australia.

In a statement on Tuesday night, February 17, the Vatican announced that the new apostolic nuncio to Australia is Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, 67, a native of the Philippines.

Yllana, the titular archbishop of Montecorvino, served as apostolic nuncio to the Democratic Republic of Congo before this posting.

Yllana was born in Naga City, Philippines, on February 6, 1948, according to his curriculum vitae as provided by the Apostolic Nunciature in Australia and posted by the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

He was ordained priest at the Archdiocese of Caceres in the Philippines on March 19, 1972.

He later earned a doctorate in civil and canon law, and studied international diplomacy.

Twelve years after he was ordained in the Philippines, Yllana entered the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See on February 1, 1984. Then he served in the apostolic nunciatures in Ghana, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Lebanon, Hungary, and China.

Former popes John Paul II, in 2001, and Benedict XVI, in 2006 and 2010, eventually appointed him apostolic nuncio to the following countries:

  • Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands – December 13, 2001

  • Pakistan – March 30, 2006

  • Democratic Republic of Congo – November 20, 2010

Yllana speaks English, Spanish, Italian, and French, his curriculum vitae said.

4 Filipino nuncios

The president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Dennis Hart, thanked Francis for appointing Yllana as the Vatican’s envoy to Australia.

“It is an indication of the Holy Father’s love and concern for us all,” Hart said. “Archbishop Yllana brings wide and diverse experience, great faith and priestly gifts. We assure him of a warm and enthusiastic welcome upon his arrival and service here in Australia.”

Yllana’s appointment came 7 months after Francis placed another Filipino nuncio in an important position.

In July 2014, Francis named Archbishop Bernardito Cleopas Auza, a native of Talibon in Bohol, as the Vatican’s permanent representative to the UN.

Auza is the first Filipino to represent the Vatican before the UN.

In different countries around the world, 4 Filipinos serve as apostolic nuncios, according to a report by the Church-run Radyo Veritas.

Aside from Yllana and Auza, two other Filipino archbishops represent the Pope as ambassadors. Archbishop Osvaldo Padilla is the apostolic nuncio to Korea while his brother, Archbishop Francisco Padilla, is the nuncio to Tanzania. – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.