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Pope Francis confers episcopal ordination to three new nuncios, tells them prayer is their …


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis ordained three priests from the Roman Curia as titular archbishops with the task of apostolic nuncio. In his address during the ceremony, the pontiff told them that “prayer is the first task of a bishop”.

The new prelates are Mgr Waldemar Stanisław Sommertag, 50, from the diocese of Pelplin (Poland), appointed nuncio to Nicaragua (picture 3); Mgr Alfred Xuereb, 59, of the diocese of Gozo (Malta), a former personal secretary to Benedict XVI and Pope Francis (picture 1), now apostolic nuncio to Korea and Mongolia; and Mgr José Avelino Bettencourt, 56, born in Portugal, of the Archdiocese of Ottawa (Canada), appointed nuncio to Armenia and Georgia (picture 2).

The ceremony was held at the Altar of Confession, in the centre of St Peter’s Basilica on the occasion of the solemnity of St Joseph. Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, co-celebrated the liturgical service along with dozens of other bishops and cardinals.

As in many similar cases, the Pope’s homily follows that of the ritual of the Roman Pontifical for the ordinations of bishops, with some significant additions and emphases.

In fact, the Holy Father emphasised prayer as the “very first task” of a bishop. Citing the letter to the Hebrews (5.1), the pontiff said that “every priest, taken from among men, is made for the good of men in things that concern God”, adding emphatically, “not for business, not for politics, not for other things.”

Urging the new prelates to be witnesses of the love of the Good Shepherd, Francis added: “Love all those whom the Lord entrusts to you: be close to priests, every day, but [be close] also to the poor, the defenceless”.

Last but not least, given the task of nuncio entrusted to them, the Pope asked the new Vatican diplomats to bear witness to “solicitude for all the Churches”, to whom they must always show closeness and solidarity.

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