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Pope appoints Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti prefect of the office for the Oriental Churches

he Pope has appointed Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, who since July 2020 was the apostolic nuncio to Great Britain, prefect of the Holy See's Dicastery for the Oriental Churches, the Vatican press office said in a statement.

Archive - The new Vatican Prefect for the Oriental Churches, Claudio Guferotti, when he was Nuncio to the UK. - Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/dpa
Archive - The new Vatican Prefect for the Oriental Churches, Claudio Guferotti, when he was Nuncio to the UK. - Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/dpa© Provided by News 360

Gugerotti has thus taken the place of Argentine Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, who had presided since 2007 over the Vatican body responsible for relations with the Eastern Catholic Churches. Sandri turned 79 last November 18. Normally the retirement age at the Vatican is 75, so Cardinal Sandri has remained in office four years longer than expected.

Archbishop Gugerotti had already held several positions in the Holy See's Dicastery for the Oriental Churches before beginning his diplomatic career as nuncio to the Holy See. Born in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1982, he studied Oriental Theology and Liturgy at the Institute of Ecumenical Studies in Verona from 1982 to 1985. In 1985, he joined the Congregation for Oriental Churches and became its undersecretary in 1997. During those years, he also taught patristics and Armenian language at the Pontifical Oriental Institute.

In 2001, John Paul II appointed him nuncio to Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan; at that time, all three Caucasus regions had the same nuncio.

In 2011, he was appointed nuncio to Belarus by Benedict XVI and in 2015 he was appointed nuncio to Ukraine by Pope Francis. During his years at the nunciature in Kiev, he coordinated the 'Pope For Ukraine' project. In addition, he frequently went to conflict sites, where he also accompanied Cardinal Sandri on a 2017 trip.

In July 2020, Francis appointed him apostolic nuncio to the United Kingdom. However, he also sent him on a mission as his special envoy to Belarus, to unblock the situation of Archbishop Kondrusiewicz in Minsk, who had not been granted permission to return to Belarus. Gugerotti mediated with the Belarusian government, which finally granted Kondrusiewicz permission as diplomatic representative, which he left when he turned 75.

Gugerotti's appointment to the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches is a further step in the renewal of the Curia propitiated by Pope Francis. Currently, the Dicasteries for the Doctrine of the Faith and for Bishops are also governed by cardinals over the age of 75, so the Pope is also expected to appoint a new prefect in the coming weeks. 

Reference: Story by Daniel Stewart 

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