NZ Bishops meet well-remembered nuncio during Rome Ad Limina

ad limina

Last week, the New Zealand bishops in Rome for their Ad Limina visit met the fondly remembered former papal nuncio Archbishop Angelo Acerbi.

Acerbi’s diplomatic career included being held hostage by guerillas in Colombia and becoming the first nuncio to Hungary after the end of communism.

Now 94, Acerbi is retired and lives in the Vatican in the Casa Santa Marta guest house, the home of Pope Francis and where the New Zealand bishops are staying during their Ad Limina.

The archbishop’s very first appointment as Apostolic Nuncio was to New Zealand and the Pacific from 1974 to 1979.

Hamilton Bishop Stephen Lowe says Archbishop Acerbi enjoys good health and maintains a fantastic memory.

“He has enjoyed connecting with us during our visit,” said Lowe.

“As bishops, we have often commented about the loneliness of the life of a nuncio, but Acerbi has a wealth of stories of encounters in New Zealand and the Pacific with clergy, religious and laypeople.”

Italian-born Acerbi was ordained in 1948, so this is his 71st year ordained.

His Wellington-based nuncio appointment was followed by others in Colombia, Hungary, Moldova and the Netherlands.

In 1980 he was held hostage with 26 other diplomats for several weeks in Bogotá, Colombia, after an assault by the M-19 urban guerilla group on the Embassy of the Dominican Republic.

His appointment to Hungary in 1990 after the end of communism was significant because there had been no apostolic nuncio to that country since the communist takeover in 1945.

“He still has an active interest in our region and the life of the Church and society in our part of the world,” said Lowe.

“He clearly has a beautiful faith and love that reflects a life of faithful service of the Lord and his Church. His presence has been one of the unexpected joys of these days in Rome.”

Photo caption: from left Bishop Paul Martin SM (Christchurch), Bishop Patrick Dunn (Auckland), Cardinal John Dew (Wellington) Archbishop Angelo Acerbi, Bishop Stephen Lowe (Hamilton) and Bishop Michael Dooley (Dunedin).

Supplied. David McLoughlin
Communications Adviser, NZ Catholic Bishops
Te Huinga o ngā Pīhopa Katorika o Aotearoa

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News category: New Zealand.

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