CEBU CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Archbishop Bernardito Cleopas Auza, who hails from Talibon, Bohol, is the new Apostolic Papal Nuncio to Spain, the Vatican announced on Tuesday, October 1.
Apostolic Nuncios serve as ambassadors of the Holy See, or the Vatican city state. The Holy See is legally distinct from the Vatican City or the Catholic Church.
Auza's appointment came less than two years before the Philippines celebrates the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity to its shores courtesy of Spanish missionaries who were part of Ferdinand Magellan's historic voyage.
The Spanish colonizers celebrated the first Catholic Mass on March 31, 1521 in Limasawa.
This time, the role is reversed. The representative of the Roman Catholic Church to Spain is a citizen of a former Spanish colony.
The CBCP News, the website of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), quoted Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga as saying that it was “very significant and meaningful" that the new papal nuncio to Spain would be a Filipino.
“On the forthcoming grace-filled event of 500 years of Christianization of our country, the Philippine Church gives her gift and gratitude in the person of Archbishop Auza,” Santos told the CBCP website.
Auza is currently serving as the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations. The CBCP News he is fluent in Spanish. (READ: Pope picks Filipino as Vatican envoy to UN)
He succeeded retired Italian Archbishop Renzo Fratini, who has already reached the retirement age of 75 and has held the post since 2009.
According to Auza’s official biography, he was ordained priest for the Diocese of Tagbilaran on 29 June 1985. then in 1986 he was incardinated to the newly created Diocese of Talibon.
Auza is not the only Apostolic Nuncio from the Visayas.
The current Nuncio to Qatar is Francesco Padilla, a native of Sogod, Cebu. He also serves as the Apostolic Nuncio to Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Qatar; and is Apostolic Delegate to the Arabian Peninsula
His brother Osvaldo Padilla was the Nuncio to South Korea until 2017.
Prior to Auza's appointment as the permanent observer to the UN, he was the Vatican’s apostolic nuncio to Haiti from 2008 to 2014. – Rappler.com