A NEW HOST IN THE NUNCIATURE

ARTUR STELMASIAK

A new apostolic nuncio in Poland, archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio arrived in Warsaw. The Vatican diplomat was greeted by bishops at the airport. He gave president of the Polish Republic Andrzej Duda credentials from pope Francis

Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio is the 73rd apostolic nuncio in the history of Poland. – I consider myself to be a spiritual son of ST. John Paul II who ordained ma a bishop – he emphasizes. – Now my mission is bringing Poland joy and blessing from pope Francis.

The new nuncio represents Vatican to the authorities of Poland, stands at the helm of the whole diplomatic corpus and has also a particular mission in our local Church. The Vatican diplomat watches over the process of electing diocesan and auxiliary bishops. It is him who submits candidates for bishops and carries out an informative process. – Among various competences of the apostolic nuncio there is also taking care about forming the Episcopate in our country – archbishop Gądecki, the chairman of the Polish Episcopal Conference tells ‘Niedziela’.

From St. Mother Theresa to St. John Paul II

Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio comes from Marano di Napoli - a town which is a few kilometers from Nepal, in the southern part of the Apennine Peninsula. Soon after priestly ordination in 1976 he was sent to PhD studies of philosophy, and after the PhD thesis exam in 1979 he began his ministry in diplomatic institutions of Vatican spread all over the world. He worked in Europe, South America, Africa, Asia and in Australia.

In 1998 John Paul II appointed Fr. Pennacchio an apostolic nuncio in Rwanda and raised him to the dignity of archbishop. His first mission on his own was in a very difficult country, as a few years earlier the previous nuncio and other diplomats had to escape from Rwanda. – Archbishop Pennacchio not only managed to complete his mission in those difficult conditions, but he was also a great support for the local Church and took care about missionaries there – archbishop Henryk Hoser told ‘Niedziela’, who in the 90s of the last century had a function of an apostolic inspector in Rwanda.

For the next 7 years archbishop Pennacchio was an apostolic nuncio in Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia and an apostolic delegate in Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia and Brunei. In 2010 he stood at the helm of a diplomatic institution in India. Now he has been sent for a diplomatic mission in Poland. – I am arriving from the East, from the land of Mother Theresa from Calcutta, who was proclaimed the saint in September, I am arriving to the land of the saint pope John Paul II. You know how great this spiritual relationship between these saints was – says Archbishop the Nuncio. – I trust that they will accompany me in this mission through God’s blessing.

A bridge between Poland and Vatican

The diplomatic mission in Poland was given to a very experienced priest who has worked in diplomatic institutions of the Holy See for 40 years, in various parts of the world. – I met archbishop Pennacchio personally, when I was working in the Congregation for Nations Evangelization. At that time he was an apostolic nuncio in Thailand where he was responsible even for 7 countries – emphasized archbishop Hoser. – His task is taking experience of the universal onto the local Church. Archbishop Pennacchio comes to us as an expert who knows problems and challenges for the Church in the international dimension. Although the building of the Apostolic Nunciature at Szucha Alley in Warsaw is not a sizeable embassy, its influences are much bigger than other diplomatic institutions. – The nuncio is a bridge between the Catholic Church in Poland and the Polish country, and also between the local Church and the Holy See – explains Fr. Pweł Rytel-Andrianik, the spokesman of the Polish Episcopal Conference.

Among rights and duties of archbishop Penacchio there are also prognosis on the line state – the Church in Poland. His mission is to stand on the guard of autonomy of the Local Church towards possible influences of politicians and the state authority. Although at present it does not seem that this type of diplomatic prognosis would be needed in our country, the history of the Church knows a lot of cases that nuncios had to intervene in such situations.

That is not all, as on the website of nunciature we can read that among many questions asked to the representative of Vatican, there is also cooperation with the poorest members of the society human rights defence, freedom of religion, conscience and cult. The nuncio should also cooperate in the matter of protection of life and stability of family.

Listening, loving and looking

In his private life archbishop Pennacchio’s hobby is football. He admits that in his youth he spent a lot of time on the playground. – However, at present, considering my age and also his weight, I can enjoy watching football on TV and when I have an occasion, also at the stadium – he said in an interview with the spokesman of the Polish Episcopal Conference. As it befits a true Neapolitan, the Archbishop Nuncio is a football fan of SSC Napoli and watches actions of his favourite football club. He has got a great knowledge on it and he reminds that this year a contract with two good Polish footballers: Arkadiusz Milik and Piotr Zielinski was signed.

As for the spiritual life of the priest and Vatican diplomat, the Polish Pope marked a particular sign on him. – St. John Paul II took my pastoral ministry under his fatherly care. In order to express my gratitude towards the saint Pope, I chose the bishop’s words as a motto: ‘Do not be afraid’, which refer to the calling: ‘Do not be afraid, open the door to Christ!’ - explains archbishop Pennacchio.

A typical Polish accent in the rich life of the new Apostolic Nuncio is also his journey to Poland on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of his bishopric ordination in 2009, in order to pay visit to places connected with St. John Paul II. History and tradition of Poland made a big impression on him, but Poles’ faith impressed on him the most. – I am a novice, and I am arriving here in order to get to know the Polish church, learn it. I want to listen, love and look – he said on 31 October this year, soon after he had arrive in Warsaw, in order to take over the function of the apostolic nuncio in Poland. – I am a humble tool in the hand of God, which wants to serve to this nation and this Church. I trust that also prayer and support of the beloved people of God in Poland will accompany me – he added.

AA

„Niedziela” 46/2016

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Lidia Dudkiewicz • Translation: Aneta Amrozik • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl