New Filipino Nuncio
Written by Dr. Edgar A. Gamboa
June 22, 2008
Whether it's Ramiele Malubay showing Ryan, Paula, Simon, and Randy how a Filipina can sing on American Idol, or Arnel Pineda belting a song as the new lead vocalist of Journey, we celebrate -- and with justifiable pride and joy -- every time a Filipino or Filipina hits the international scene. Our nation of 90 million rarely gets the recognition it deserves. Shifted from center on the world stage, we are grateful for any spotlight out there.
Well, this month we really hit it big!
On May 8, 2008, the Vatican announced to the whole world that the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, had appointed Reverend Monsignor Bernardito C. Auza, of the diocese of Talibon, Bohol, as Titular Archbishop of Suacia and Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti. Holding the rank of ambassador, the Nuncio is the diplomatic representative of the Holy See in countries with diplomatic relations with the Holy See. The Apostolic Nuncio has the double mandate of representing the Holy Father to the State to which he is accredited, and to the Catholic Church in that country.
Only the fourth Filipino nuncio in our history, Msgr. Barney, as he is fondly called, had, only two years ago, been appointed First Counsellor of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York. The appointment was good news to Msgr. Barney's many friends and family (some of whom reside in San Diego), but it was hardly a surprise. Msgr. Barney, who speaks fluent Italian, French, Spanish, in addition to English, Tagalog and his native Bisaya, is an intellectual powerhouse. In addition to his diplomatic experience, Msgr. Barney is also, in the words of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines secretary general Msgr. Juanito Figura, "friendly and approachable". His rise in the Catholic Church hierarchy is well-deserved.
Born in Balintawak, Talibon, Bohol, on June 10, 1959, 48-year-old Msgr. Barney is the eight of twelve children of parents Meliton Garcia Auza and Magdalena Polestico Cleopas. After preliminary education in Talibon, he entered the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Tagbilaran City. He then enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, where he obtained his Licentiate in Philosophy in 1981, and a Licentiate in Theology and Masters in Education in 1986. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 29, 1985, in California.
Msgr. Barney was sent to the University of St. Thomas (Angelicum) in Rome, where he obtained a Licentiate in Canon Law in 1989 and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology in 1990, and to the Vatican Diplomatic School (Pontificia Accademia Ecclesiastica), where he finished his diplomatic and linguistic studies.
Thereafter, he served as secretary to the apostolic Nunciature in Madagascar and Mauritius (1990-1993) and in Bulgaria (1993-1996). He was appointed counsellor in Albania in 1997 and then served as charge d' affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature in London. From 1999 to 2006, Msgr. Barney worked as counsellor at the Section for Relations with States (the “Foreign Ministry” of the Holy See) of the Secretariat State, in the Vatican. He worked at the Holy See Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York from the summer of 2006 until his appointment as Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti. The highlight of his New York experience was the recent visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the United Nations and New York on April 18-20, 2008.
Msgr. Barney Auza is the fourth nuncio from the Philippines. The first Filipino nuncio is Archbishop Osvaldo Padilla of Cebu City who was named by the late Pope John Paul II (the Great) as nuncio to Panama in December 17,1990. Archbishop Padilla currently serves as apostolic nuncio to Korea and Mongolia.
The second nuncio is Archbishop Adolfo Yllana of Naga City, appointed December 13, 2001, and currently nuncio to Pakistan. The third is Archbishop Francisco Padilla, younger brother of the first nuncio, appointed Titular Archbishop of Nebbio on April 1, 2006, and presently the nuncio to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
Msgr. Barney Auza's ordination as Archbishop is scheduled to be held at St. Peter's Basilica, in the Vatican, on July 3, 2008 at 5 pm. The ordination will be conferred by His Eminence the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, with as co-consecrators His Eminence Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Archbishop Francesco Monterisi, Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops. It will be an event many will cherish.
Lucie and I first met Msgr. Barney in Rome in the summer of 1990 when Fr. Roque "Khing" Vano introduced us. He was then a young priest, who had just finished his degree in Canon Law and was embarking on a diplomatic career.
Msgr. Barney showed us the City of Rome and the Vatican that tourists rarely see, such as the site of the First Christian Martyrs. Through the years, he has made it possible for us to obtain Papal audiences and special events at the Vatican, such as the beatification of Pedro Calungsud. Through his rise in the Church, Msgr. Barney has remained as friendly and approachable as his peers have attested.