ROME, July 4, 2008--Monsignor Bernardito Auza, newly appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti was ordained to the Episcopacy yesterday at the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome. He was ordained with Monsignor Piergiuseppe Vacchelli, Assistant Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of People (Propagation of the Faith).
The Episcopal ordination was conferred by His Eminence Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State of His Holiness, with Ivan Cardinal Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue as co-Consecrators.
There were seven cardinals, thirty-eight bishops and around one-hundred priests who concelebrated during the two-hour liturgy on the feast of St. Thomas Apostle. Among the concelebrants were the Most Rev. Antonieto D. Cabajog, Bishop of Surigao and ten Filipino priests. Many of the Filipino priests based in Rome were away for their summer assignments.
Present in the assembly were the respective families, relatives, friends and guests of the ordained bishops. The special guests of Monsignor Auza included his parents: Mr. Meliton Garcia Auza and Mrs. Magdalena Cleopas Auza, and other members of his immediate family.
Her Excellency Leonida Vera, Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See, His Excellency Philippe Lhuillier, Philippine Ambassador to Italy and their Embassy staff also came for the celebration.
Since Monsignor Auza comes from Bohol, many of his friends from the “Pundok ni Beato Pedro Calungsod”, a community of migrants from the Visayan Region have been involved in the preparations.
The solemn Eucharistic celebration began at five o’ clock in the afternoon at the Altar of the Chair of St.Peter which is located at the far end of the central nave of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Four Doctors of the Church: Sts. Ambrose and Augustine representing the Western Church, and Sts. Athanasius and Chrysostom representing the Eastern Church point toward this chair. This masterpiece of Gian Lorenzo Bernini represents the teaching authority of St. Peter and his successors.
Cardinal Bertone mentioned in his homily the previous diplomatic assignments of Monsignor Auza: Madagascar and the South Indian Ocean (1990-93), Bulgaria (1993-96), Albania (1997-98), Secretariat of State (Vatican) at the Section for Relations with States (“Foreign Ministry”) of the Holy See (1999-2006), Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the UN (2006-2008).
Noting this vast diplomatic experience, Cardinal Bertone assured Monsignor Auza that he will be effective in his diplomatic mission as Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti especially in promoting peace, reconciliation and communion in the country.
At the end of the rite of ordination for bishops, the newly ordained received a spontaneous and warm applause from the assembly as they were seated at their designated chairs with their Episcopal regalia.
Before concluding the Mass, the newly ordained bishops processed along the central aisle of the basilica and blessed the people while the Te Deum was sung by the Vatican Choir.
The Mass was followed by a festive reception at the Pontificio Collegio Filippino for the family members and special guests of Monsignor Auza. It was good that His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales was able to join the reception after his meeting at the Vatican. Many guests took this special occasion to personally greet Monsignor Auza after the liturgical celebration.
Monsignor Auza is now the fourth Apostolic Nuncio from the Philippines and the first from Bohol. The other three are Archbishop Osvaldo M. Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio to Korea and Mongolia, Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, Apostolic Nuncio to Pakistan and Archbishop Francisco M. Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
The Apostolic Nuncio is not only the representative of the Holy See to countries where it has diplomatic relations but he also serves as its liaison with the local bishops of the Roman Catholic Church. The Nuncio carries the rank of an ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary with the ecclesiastical rank of titular archbishop. Monsignor Auza is the titular Archbishop of Suacia.
In his address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See this year, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI concluded his message with these words: “Diplomacy is, in a certain sense, the art of hope. It lives from hope and seeks to discern even its most tenuous signs. Diplomacy must give hope.”
The Philippine Catholic Church must be very grateful and proud of our Filipino Apostolic Nuncios as they carry on the diplomatic work of hope to other countries on behalf of the Holy See. This work of hope is needed today especially in areas where armed conflicts, social divisions, massive poverty and injustice are present.
Monsignor Auza certainly needs the support and prayers of all as he embarks on his new diplomatic mission of hope to Haiti. (Fr. Jose V.C. Quilongquilong, S.J.)