Pope Francis appoints Apostolic Nuncio to Zimbabwe

Msgr Paolo Rudelli carries the vision of the Holy See for a Church that spends herself for humanity.

The Nuncio to Zimbabwe Msgr Paolo Rudelli.

By Br. Alfonce Kugwa

His Holiness Pope Francis has recently appointed an Apostolic Nuncio to Zimbabwe. The appointment that was announced on 25 January 2020 introduced His Grace Monsignor Paolo Rudelli, Titular Archbishop of Mesembria as the new Apostolic Nuncio after the departure of Archbishop Marek Zalewski in July 2018.

The press release announcing the coming of the new nuncio read as follows:

“His Holiness Pope Francis has appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Zimbabwe His Grace Msgr. Paolo Rudelli, Titular of Mesembria.”

Msgr. Paolo Rudelli was born on 16 July 1970 and raised in the Diocese of Bergamo, Italy, the Diocese of Pope St. John XXIII, who was himself for many years also Apostolic Delegate and Nuncio.  He was ordained priest on 10 June 1995 for the Diocese of Bergamo. He completed his theological studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he received a doctoral degree in moral theology and a licenciate in canon law.

The Nuncio said he draws his joy from serving the people of God and that the moments of encounter and direct collaboration with Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis were, for him, a source of particular inspiration.

Msgr Paolo Rudelli share a moment with Pope Francis.

“In nearly 25 years as a priest, my experience coincides almost completely with the service that I render to the Holy See. There have been many happy moments. First of all, the numerous occasions in which I have had the opportunity to be a witness to the richness of the faith of so many men and women in the Countries where I served.

Secondly, during those years I spent in the Secretariat of State, the moments of encounter and direct collaboration with Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis were, for me, a source of particular inspiration. After 25 years in the priesthood, being thankful to the Lord, I have perhaps undergone some challenging moments, but never sad moments,” said Msgr Rudelli.

Reflecting on how he entered the diplomatic service, Msgr Rudelli had this to: “In 1998, three years after presbyteral ordination, while I was still a priest-student in Rome, the Bishop of Bergamo forwarded to me a request that reached him from the Holy See, a request to have me begin the formation for the diplomatic service. The Bishop left me free to choose, but, at the same time, he encouraged me to respond positively, underlining that it was an important service for the Pope and the Church. My Diocese had a high number of priests and requests such as this one were not uncommon. So, I began my formation at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and in 2001, I left for the Apostolic Nunciature in Ecuador, South America. Afterwards, I was in Poland, then Rome for eight years in the Secretariat of State, and later, for five years, in the Council of Europe as Permanent Observer of the Holy See.”

The Nuncio said the challenge facing the Church today is that of bearing witness to the Gospel, as the Council says, “the sacrament, that is, a sign and instrument of the intimate union with God and of the unity of all humanity” (Lumen Gentium, 1).

He highlighted that in order to realize this vocation, the Church must foremost be a looking-glass of Jesus Christ, this is always the central challenge.

He cited a lot of other challenges affecting the Church today, which he said, comes from the context in which the Church operates. The context of a world in rapid transformation, with growing economic imbalances and a global ecological emergency.

“The Catholic Church is a unique reality on earth: a communion of more than a billion persons, which embraces five continents and all cultures. By fully living out the Gospel, the Catholic Church can testify that when man opens up himself to God, the calling to the fraternity of the human race is possible,” he stressed.

The Nuncio clearly spelt out the mind of Pope Francis and the Vision of the Holy See to have a Church that spends herself for humanity, starting with those most in need, in collaboration with all those who have the welfare of humanity at heart. He pointed out that, for the Holy See, diplomacy is always a means, never an end in itself.

“The Apostolic Nuncios in the world have, as their first mission, that of representing the Successor of Peter and his charism of unity in local Churches. At the same time, the Church has a vocation towards the world, that of being a yeast of fraternity, of building peace by means of promoting social justice, and of the integral development of peoples. All this, I believe, is summarized in the concept of a “Church on exit”, dear to Pope Francis: A Church which is not centred on herself, which is not content with being only a safe refuge for her own faithful, but a Church that spends herself for humanity, starting with those who are most in need, in collaboration with all those who have at heart the good of the human person. The diplomacy of the Holy See is put at the service of these objectives, it is an instrument which enables the Pope to be active in all the regions of the earth,” narrated the Nuncio.

Msgr. Rudelli entered the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See on 1 July 2001 and has worked in the Pontifical Representations to Ecuador (2001-2003), Poland (2003-2006) and later in the Holy See’s Secretariat of State (Section for general Affairs) from 2006-2014.

On 20 September 2014, Pope Francis appointed him Special Envoy and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

On 3 September 2019, the Holy Father named him Titular Archbishop of Mesembria and Apostolic Nuncio, and on 4 October ordained him as a bishop in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Msgr. Rudelli was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Zimbabwe on 25 January 2020. He speaks English, French, Spanish and Polish. Msgr Rudelli stated that he comes to Zimbabwe especially to be enriched with this testimony of faith, and to be, amidst this reality, the sign of the presence and pastoral cha

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