‘You are our gift to the Church,’ Manila cardinal tells papal nuncio to Rwanda

Archbishop Catalan is the fifth Filipino to become apostolic nuncio, a diplomat who serves as representative of the Holy See

“Your are our gift to the Church.”

This was the message of Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila to Filipino Archbishop Arnaldo Catalan, the new papal nuncio to Rwanda, during his episcopal ordination on Friday, February 11.

Archbishop Catalan is the fifth Filipino to become apostolic nuncio, an ecclesiastical diplomat who serves as an envoy or a permanent diplomatic representative of the Holy See.

“In the name of the clergy, religious men and women, and all the lay faithful in our beloved local Church, I congratulate you on your episcopal ordination today,” said Cardinal Advincula.

“We are very proud of you,” added the Manila prelate, adding that the ordination and appointment of Archbishop Catalan is a gift of the Church in the Philippines to the universal Church.

“Archbishop Catalan’s ordination adds meaning to our celebration of the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines. We are indeed gifted to give,” said Cardinal Advincula.

“The Archdiocese of Manila has indeed been very blessed. Now it is our turn to give. And we are offering our very own Archbishop Arnie as a missionary to the world,” he said.

Archbishop Catalan was consecrated to the episcopate by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Serving as co-consecrators were Cardinal Advincula of Manila and Archbishop Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines.

In his homily, Cardinal Tagle told Archbishop Catalan to let every activity and moment in his ministry “be the hour of Jesus”.

“And in God’s hour, may the people especially in Rwanda, see the mercy of the Lord and they themselves will say we will not be discouraged, we will not give up,” said Cardinal Tagle, whose dicastery oversees mission territories like Rwanda.

The new archbishop described his appointment as a “surprise” and “a gift that is totally gratuitous and unmerited.”

“But it is also quite a demanding task,” Archbishop Catalan said.

“Truly God did not meet my expectations. He exceeded them so much that I am at a loss of words to thank Him.”

The archbishop, who is 55 years old, is the first priest of the Manila archdiocese to become a Vatican ambassador.

Prior to his appointment, he had been serving as the Chargé d’affaires of the Holy See’s diplomatic mission in China (Taiwan) since 2019.

He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 2001 and served in the apostolic nunciature in Zambia, Kuwait, Mexico, Honduras, Turkey, India, Argentina, Canada, and the Philippines.

Cardinal Advincula encouraged the new papal nuncio to bring Filipino pride and enrich his mission with Filipino faith and values.

“In your mission as an official representative of the Holy Father, enrich the diplomatic service with the wealth of our Filipino spirit,” said the cardinal.

“Wherever you are sent, bring with you the Filipino faith, the Filipino warmth, the Filipino hospitality, the Filipino personalism, the Filipino joy, and the Filipino smile,” he said.

Archbishop Catalan’s appointment was announced by Pope Francis on January 31. – with a report from Jheng Prado of RCAM and CBCP News

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