Pope Francis has appointed Filipino Archbishop Bernardito Auza on Tuesday the new Apostolic Nuncio to Spain and Andorra.
The papal envoy succeeds retired Italian Archbishop Renzo Fratini, who has been in the post since 2009.
Fratini turned 75 in July, the age at which canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation into the pope.
The appointment of Auza, who is fluent in Spanish language, was announced in Rome at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
Upon his appointment, the archbishop has been serving as the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York, a post he held since 2014.
It also came less than two years before the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines through the Spanish missionaries.
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said that it is “very significant and meaningful” that the new papal envoy to Spain will 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.
A native of Talibon in Bohol province, Archbishop Auza 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 was a member of the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the U.N. before assuming his post in Haiti in 2008.
Archbishop Auza also served in the Secretariat of State in the Vatican, after his assignment to the Apostolic Nunciatures in Bulgaria and Albania.