Pope Francis’ appointment of Archbishop Bernardito Auza as Vatican Ambassador to Spain and Andorra brings to three the total number of Apostolic Nuncios from the Philippines.

According to an article posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) website, the appointment was announced in Rome at 6 p.m. on October 1, 2019.

Auza, who is fluent in Spanish, will succeed retired Italian Archbishop Renzo Fratini, who had served the post for 10 years since 2009.

Fratini turned 75 in July, the mandatory age for bishops to submit their resignation to the Pope, as stated in the canon law.

Prior to his appointment, the archbishop had been the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York since 2014.

Auza, a native of Talibon in Bohol province, was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Tagbilaran in 1985. He was incardinated to the then newly-formed Diocese of Talibon in 1986.

In 1990, he entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See. His first assignment was in Madagascar from 1990 to 1993, and he became a member of the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the UN before assuming his post in Haiti in 2008.

Likewise, the archbishop served in the Secretariat of State in the Vatican, after his assignment to the respective Apostolic Nunciatures in Bulgaria and Albania.

Aside from Auza, the other two Filipino bishops who became Ambassadors of the Vatican to other countries are Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, Apostolic Nuncio to Australia; and Archbishop Francisco Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio to Qatar.

The appointment also came less than two years before the country celebrates the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity through Spanish missionaries.

Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos said it is “very significant and meaningful” that the new papal envoy 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,” he said.

“God’s graces and the Gospel our Spanish missionaries have sown in us are our fruits for Spain and for the whole world. It is indeed a call for us to celebrate with gratitude and with deep appreciation our 500 years of Christianization,” Santos added. (Ferdinand Patinio, Philippine News Agency)

Top photo: NEW PAPAL NUNCIO. Archbishop Bernardito Auza has been appointed by Pope Francis as the Vatican’s Ambassador to Spain and Andorra, which was announced in Rome on Oct. 2, 2019. Prior to his appointment, Auza had served as the Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York since 2014. (Photo courtesy of CBCP)