Archbishop Filoni Is New Nuncio to Philippines

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 26, 2006 - Benedict XVI has appointed Archbishop Fernando Filoni as apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, to replace a prelate reassigned to the Middle East.

Archbishop Filoni, formerly apostolic nuncio to Iraq and Jordan, replaces outgoing nuncio Archbishop Antonio Franco, who had been appointed apostolic nuncio to Israel and Cyprus, and apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine, the Vatican press office said Saturday.

As papal representative in Iraq since 2001, Archbishop Filoni remained in the apostolic nunciature in Baghdad when the U.S.-led military operations against Saddam Hussein’s regime commenced. Most diplomats returned to their home countries.

With this gesture, the prelate, 59, wished to express the Pope’s closeness to the local Church and people of Iraq during the bombings and subsequent reconstruction.

On Jan. 29, amid the protests over the Mohammed press cartoons, the nuncio’s residence was damaged by a car bomb.

Archbishop Filoni was the cultural adviser of the nunciature in Manila before his appointment as apostolic nuncio to Iraq and Jordan.