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Irish priest to represent Pope in South Sudan

Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's square at the Vatican on April 24, 2024

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media - published on 05/15/24

Irish priest Séamus Patrick Horan is one of three new apostolic nuncios the Pope has named to fill posts around the world, and will be consecrated bishop.

Pope Francis has appointed three new apostolic nuncios — the Vatican’s equivalent of ambassadors — to Venezuela, South Sudan, and the Solomon Islands, the Holy See Press Office informed on May 14, 2024. 

Irish nuncio in South Sudan 

Appointed to South Sudan, Irish priest Séamus Patrick Horgan receives his first nuncio assignment at the age of 54. He will shortly be ordained bishop, with the dignity of archbishop, as is customary for nuncios. 

Msgr. Séamus Patrick Horgan recevied priestly ordination in 1994. After studying canon law, he joined the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 2005. He has worked in Uganda, Switzerland, the Philippines, and the Secretariat of State. Until now, he was first counselor at the Nunciature in the United States. He is a polyglot, speaking English, French, Italian and German.

Msgr. Horgan is being sent to a predominantly Christian country torn apart by ethnic strife. Pope Francis, who has been heavily involved in the country’s reconciliation, visited South Sudan in February 2023. In 2019, he went down on his knees before the country’s political leader and his opponent, to support his plea for peace.

11th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis

Spanish nuncio in Venezuela

The new nuncio to Venezuela, 61-year-old Spaniard Archbishop Alberto Ortega Martín, is a diplomat well-versed in delicate missions. Having joined the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1997, he has served as counselor at the nunciature in Nicaragua, South Africa, and Lebanon. He has also been in charge of Middle East issues in the Secretariat of State’s section for relations with States. 

In 2015, he received his first assignment as nuncio to Jordan and Iraq, in a very difficult context marked by the war against ISIS. Then, appointed apostolic nuncio to Chile in 2019, his task was to put the country’s Church back on its feet after abuse scandals and widespread omertà among bishops. 

In his new post in Venezuela, he will enter a country suffering a severe economic crisis, and marked by stormy relations between the Church and Nicolas Maduro’s left-wing populist regime. Venezuela’s population is overwhelmingly Catholic.

Papuan nuncio also appointed to Solomon Islands

Lastly, Archbishop Mauro Lalli has been appointed apostolic nuncio to the Solomon Islands. The 58-year-old Italian prelate will combine this position in an Oceanian state with that of nuncio to Papua New Guinea, where he was assigned in March 2024. 

He will thus receive the Pope during the upcoming visit in September.

Born in Atessa on September 17, 1965, Archbishop Mauro Lalli was ordained a priest on July 14, 1990, for the Diocese of Chieti. In addition to Italian, he speaks English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. 

After joining the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1999, he worked in the papal delegations in Guatemala, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Romania, Croatia, India, Iraq, Jordan, and Cyprus. 

Marked by notable poverty, the Solomon Islands archipelago has a small population of some 600,000 inhabitants, the majority of whom are Protestant. Less than 20% of the population is Catholic. 

Pope FrancisSouth SudanVaticanVenezuela
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