Pope picks Filipino as Vatican envoy to UN

MANILA, Philippines – A Filipino will represent Vatican City in the United Nations (UN) after Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Bernardito Cleopas Auza as the city-state's new permanent representative to the organization.

Francis plucked Auza from his current post as the Vatican's apostolic nuncio (ambassador) to Haiti, Vatican Radio reported Tuesday, July 1.

A native of Talibon in Bohol, Auza becomes the first Filipino to represent the Vatican before the UN.

He replaces Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, an Indian-born prelate, who became the Vatican's permanent representative to the UN in 2010 under Pope Benedict XVI.

Auza's new job as permanent observer of the Holy See to the UN requires him to follow “attentively and with interest the work of the United Nations Organization.”

“In this forum, the Holy See Mission communicates the centuries’ experience of the Catholic Church to humanity, and places this experience at the disposal of the United Nations to assist it in its realization of peace, justice, human dignity, and humanitarian cooperation and assistance,” said the official website of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN.

Long-time Vatican diplomat

Auza brings with him a long experience of representing Vatican City.

He has, for one, served as apostolic nuncio to Haiti since 2008.

The Filipino archbishop was in Haiti when a magnitude-7 earthquake hit the country in 2010.

The Philippine Information Agency (PIA) quoted him then as appealing “to the generosity of all people so that these our brothers and sisters who are experiencing a moment of need and suffering may not lack our concrete solidarity and the effective support of the international community.”

The Vatican Insider, a prominent Catholic news outlet, said Auza “has extensive experience working as a diplomat for the Holy See.”

The archbishop “served in Bulgaria and Albania and worked in the second section of the Secretariat of State from 1999 to 2006,” the Vatican Insider said. He “also formed part of the Holy See’s mission at the UN in New York before being sent to Haiti.”

The PIA said Auza was born in 1959 and underwent seminary training at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Tagbilaran City, Bohol. He became a priest in 1985, the PIA said. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. 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.