Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
September 28, 2009
Canada's Nuncio appointed to France
Well-regarded Archbishop Ventura served Canadian Church for 8 years
Archbishop Luigi Ventura
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - Pope Benedict has appointed his man in Canada, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, to serve as apostolic nuncio to France.
Ventura, 65, has served as the nuncio to Canada - the Holy See's ambassador - since 2001. He arrived the day before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"It's sad news for us because he has been serving our country very well as representative of the holy father," said Cardinal Marc Ouellet.
"He was close to the people, he was very knowledgeable about the situation of the Church.
"He had travelled the whole country," Ouellet said. "He had a very good relationship to the bishops in general and also to the faithful. We will miss him.
"So I'm happy for France, who will have a nuncio who is a man of experience and very faithful to the holy father," the cardinal said. "I wish (him) many good years in France."
France is considered the "eldest daughter" of the Church, and the role of nuncio in Paris ranks among the most esteemed in the Holy See's diplomatic service.
Previous nuncios there have been made cardinals. One previous nuncio, Archbishop Angelo Roncalli, served in Paris during the Second World War and eventually became Pope John XXIII.
Salt and Light TV CEO Father Thomas Rosica, who worked closely with Ventura when he was CEO of 2002 World Youth Day in Toronto, said Ventura will be "at the centre of Europe.
"Paris plays an extremely important role," he said in an interview. "So he's really one of the key people in the diplomatic corps."
Catholic blogger Rocco Palmo reported on his popular Whispers in the Loggia site that Ventura's Sept. 22 appointment is a sign that the pope "wants to give the French hierarchy an extreme makeover."
Ventura has been credited for helping the pope select candidates who take a positive, pastoral approach, a "yes!" to Jesus Christ, and to the Church that makes orthodoxy inviting rather than scolding or moralistic.
As nuncio, Ventura advised the pope on Canadian episcopal appointments. More than 70 appointments have been made during his eight years here.
Before Ventura leaves for Paris in two months, the pope is likely to appoint a new auxiliary bishop for Toronto and a new bishop for Saskatoon.
"He has left his mark on the Church for at least the next 25 years," said Rosica.
The nunciature staff plays a crucial role in investigating potential candidates put forward by the Canadian bishops through a lengthy, confidential consultative process.
As the holy father's representative in Canada, it is usually Ventura who ordains bishops or installs them in their dioceses.
Every year, Ventura has addressed the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) annual plenary, synthesizing the messages in the pope's major speeches and writings of the previous year, tailoring them to Canada's pastoral needs.
As Vatican ambassador, Ventura also played a government-to-government role with Canada and with ambassadors from other countries.
As nuncio, Ventura travelled across Canada, building relationships.
"He was extremely visible and accessible across Canada," Rosica said.
"And he opened the doors to the nunciature in ways nobody has ever done."
A WELCOMING MAN
Ventura embraced the new movements of young Catholics such as Catholic Christian Outreach or Famille Marie-Jeunesse, often inviting members to dinners at the nunciature, a lovely manor on the shores of the Ottawa River.
"Many of us were not looking forward to this day," said Rosica.
"His sheer humanity and intelligence have been a tremendous gift to Canada."