99 Nuncios Represent the Holy Father Worldwide
While Number of Italian Prelates Decreases, Asians and Africans Increase
Currently, there are 99 apostolic nuncios stationed around the world, some of whom are in charge of more than one country. According to data published last Sunday by the Italian newspaper Avvenire, just under half (48) are Italian, a lower percentage than in the past (in 1961, 48 nuncios out of a total of 58 were from Italy, that is, 83%; in 1978 there were 55 out of 75, or 73%).
It was a tendency destined to decrease given that Pope Benedict XVI has raised 41 first time appointed nuncios to the episcopate, of whom only 15 are Italian (37%). However, papal representatives in ecclesiastically and/or politically important countries such as France, Spain, Great Britain, Poland, the United States, Brazil and Italy itself are still Italians.
The other nuncios are mainly from Europe (26, of whom six are Polish, 5 Spanish and the same number French). There are also nuncios from Asia (12), North America (7, all Americans), Africa (5) and two from Hispanic America.
Vacant at present are the nunciatures of the Ivory Coast, El Salvador, Malta, Kenya and Uganda, while within the next few months the nuncio of Bulgaria will leave. The nunciature of Iran will also be vacant due to Archbishop Jean-Paul Gobel's new post as apostolic nuncio to Egypt.
Nigerian Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachurwu, who was appointed on November 12 of last year as apostolic nuncio in Nicaragua, received his episcopal consecration from the Holy Father on January 6, feast of the Epiphany. Bishop Silvio José Báez, auxiliary bishop of Managua, attended the episcopal ordination of Archbishop Nwachurwu. Bishop Báez was one of the 16 bishops chosen to impose his hands on the four bishops ordained during that ceremony. Before the ordination, the Nicaraguan bishop gave the newly appointed nuncio a complete edition of all the pastoral documents published by the Episcopal Conference since 2007 as a gift from Nicaragua's bishops and its Catholic faithful
Moreover, on January 1 of this year the Pope appointed Archbishop Nicolas Henry Marie Denis Thevenin, titular archbishop of Aeclanum, as apostolic nuncio to Guatemala.
Archbishop Thevenin was born in Saint-Dizier, France, on June 5, 1958. He was ordained priest on July 4, 1989, and incardinated in Genoa. Having entered the Holy See's diplomatic service on July 1, 1994, he served in the papal representations of India, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Belgium, Lebanon, Cuba, Bulgaria and lastly in the Vatican State Secretariat's Section for Relations with States. Archbishop Thevenin is fluent in French, English, Italian, German, Spanish and Portuguese.
Also appointed in the first days of this year was the apostolic nuncio of Australia. Australia's nuncio is Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, titular archbishop of Hodelm, who up until recently served as apostolic nuncio in Guatemala.