Catholic Church

Pope Francis names Filipino priest as new envoy to Rwanda

Jairo Bolledo
Pope Francis names Filipino priest as new envoy to Rwanda

NEW ENVOY. Photo of Archbishop-elect Arnaldo Catalan, the new Vatican envoy to Rwanda.

Archdiocese of Manila

Archbishop-elect Arnaldo Catalan, 55, is the first priest from the Archdiocese of Manila to become an apostolic nuncio

MANILA, Philippines – Pope Francis has appointed a Filipino priest as the Holy See’s new ambassador or apostolic nuncio to Rwanda, the Archdiocese of Manila confirmed on Monday, January 31. 

Monsignor Arnaldo Catalan, now archbishop-elect, was appointed by the Holy Father as the new nuncio to the African country. An apostolic nuncio serves as an envoy of the Pope to a government that maintains diplomatic ties with the Holy See.

Catalan is the first priest from the Archdiocese of Manila to become a nuncio. In a statement, Manila Archbishop Jose Cardinal Advincula extended his gratitude to Pope Francis for appointing Archbishop-elect Catalan. 

“His Eminence Jose Cardinal F. Advincula, Archbishop of Manila, thanks the Holy Father for this gift and honor and considers the appointment of Archbishop-elect Catalan as historic, being the first priest of the Archdiocese of Manila to become a nuncio,” Cardinal Advincula said. 

The Vatican has yet to announce the details of Catalan’s episcopal ordination. 

The archbishop-elect is a 55-year-old priest, who has served as chargé d’affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature in China since 2019. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1994. 

Catalan has been working in the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See for at least two decades, according to the Archdiocese of Manila. He worked in the apostolic nunciatures in Zambia, India, Kuwait, Turkey, Argentina, Canada, and even the Philippines.

While Catalan is the first apostolic nuncio from the Archdiocese of Manila, Filipino priests from other dioceses had been appointed nuncios in the past.

The most prominent among them, Archbishop Bernardito Cleopas Auza of Talibon, Bohol, used to to be the Holy See’s permanent representative to the United Nations. He is now the papal nuncio to Spain, the country that brought Christianity to the Philippines five centuries ago. Other Filipino papal nuncios include Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, envoy to Guatemala, and Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, envoy to Israel and Cyprus.

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The Filipino nuncios are among the Filipino priests who now hold important positions in the Catholic Church. In 2020, the Holy Father raised the former Manila archbishop, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, to the rank of cardinal-bishop – the highest rank a Filipino bishop has earned in history. – 

Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering the police, crime, military, and security.