Pope Francis has selected Filipino Archbishop Bernardito Cleopas Auza to become Vatican City's permanent representative to the United Nations in New York. Auza is the first ever Filipino to represent the Holy See at the global body.
Auza succeeds Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. He becomes the second non-Italian, after Chullikatt, to be named as Vatican's Permanent Representative to the UN.
According to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Auza was Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti and also Apostolic Administrator of the capital city Porte-au-Prince after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in 2010.
He was described as a "career diplomat, having worked at various diplomatic posts."
"His first was in Madagascar and the South Indian Ocean in 1990 to 1993. He was a member of the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the UN before assuming his post in Haiti," the CBCP said.
As permanent observer of the Holy See to the UN, Auza is required to follow "attentively and with interest the work of the United Nations Organization."
"In this forum, the Holy See Mission communicates the centuries' experience of the Catholic Church to humanity, and places this experience at the disposal of the United Nations to assist it in its realization of peace, justice, human dignity, and humanitarian cooperation and assistance," the official Web site of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN noted.
Auza was already a nuncio to Haiti when the deadly January 2010 earthquake struck and devastated much of western Haiti. At least 316,000 people died in that temblor.
According to the Catholic News Service, Auza helped in directing relief money from the Vatican and other Church sources to local needs. He also assisted making key decisions on project priorities and spent funds transparently by setting up an independent "inspection" commission.
"We have to start the reconstruction with very solid principles to avoid confusion and disappointments and ill feelings of those who are willing to help," he was quoted a month after the quake.