A Nigerian priest, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, has become the first African priest to be appointed as apostolic nuncio to Ireland by Pope Francis.
Okolo who is 60 years of age, was appointed by the pope to replace the outgoing papal nuncio, Charles Brown, who finished his term in March and is moving to Albania to take up a new diplomatic post.
The apostolic nuncio is the papacy’s diplomatic representative in Ireland.
According to a report by Irish News, the news of Okolo’s emergence as the new apostolic nuncio was welcomed by Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin, who said he wished him “many blessings in his new role”.
Martin said: “Archbishop Okolo’s rich experience in the diplomatic service of the Holy See means that he brings many gifts to bear on his new mission in Ireland.”
Dr Okolo will take up his new role in Ireland, during the summer.
In the past, he has served as the apostolic nuncio to the Central African Republic and Chad in 2008, and then as the pope’s diplomatic representative to the Dominican Republic in 2013.
Okolo started his priesthood journey in 1983 while he was still living in Nigeria, the country of his birth.
Before becoming an apostolic nuncio, he had worked in the diplomatic service of the Holy See, where he was stationed in Sri Lanka, before going on to be a pontifical representative in Haiti, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Australia and the Antilles.
Archbishop Okolo speaks English, French, Italian, Igbo, Spanish and German fluently.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis has voiced doubts that he may not be around by 2019, stirring fears over his mortality.
Speaking at a vigil service to rally enthusiasm for the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day, the Pope urged young people to lead the church’s future.
The 80-year-old Pope referred to his own mortality twice in the span of a few minutes at the vigil.