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New nuncio's appointment brings new hope for British Catholics

December 20, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed a new apostolic nuncio to Great Britain, prompting hopes among orthodox Catholics that the Vatican may eventually begin appointing new bishops from outside a tight ring of clerical insiders.

Catholics disappointed with the leadership of the current British hierarchy have complained that papal nuncios in recent years (to use the words of Damian Thompson of the Daily Telegraph) “represented the bishops’ conferences to the Pope rather than the other way around.” In November, after the incumbent nuncio submitted his resignation, William Oddie of the Catholic Herald wrote that the appointment of a new papal representative would be critical to the future of the Church in Great Britain.

The Vatican announced on December 18 that Archbishop Antonio Mennini, who has been serving as apostolic nuncio in Russia and Uzbekistan, will be the new nuncio in Great Britain. Edward Pentin of the Herald notes that Archbishop Mennini is regarded as a rising star within the Vatican diplomatic corps. William Oddie voices the hope that the new nuncio will make a difference, but confesses that he cannot be sure. “It’s difficult to find out anything about his personal inclinations: he is, after all, a professional diplomat,” Oddie writes.

Archbishop Mennini replaces Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz, who is retiring at the age of 73 because of ill health, having served in London since 2004.


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