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from issue no. 05 - 2012

The prefect of the ‘young’ Churches

by Gianni Valente

Fernando Filoni

Fernando Filoni


Fernando Filoni was born on 15 April 1946 in Manduria, in the province of Taranto, to a family, originally from Galatone (Lecce), where the father served in the IRS. He completed his middle school in Nardò, his high school studies in Molfetta, at the Pius XI Puglia regional seminary and those of theology in Viterbo, at the seminary in Santa Maria della Quercia. He was ordained a priest by Antonio Rosario Mennonna, Bishop of Nardò, on 3 July 1970. He moved to Rome and attended the Pontifical Lateran University, earning a degree in Canon Law, and the State University La Sapienza, where he graduated in philosophy. At the Pro Deo (now part of the Free International University of Social Studies) he obtained a degree in the Sciences and methods of public opinion, specializing in journalism. After completing his studies, the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Ugo Poletti, proposed that he enter the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.

In 1981 he began his diplomatic mission serving the Holy See in Sri Lanka. Then he was assigned to Iran from 1983 to 1985. After some years of service in the Secretariat of State, in 1989 he was transferred to Brazil, where he remained until 1992, when he began to reside in Hong Kong. In the then British colony the Holy See had opened a ‘Study Mission’ – formally linked to the Nunciature in the Philippines – to follow from close by the situation of the Church in China. His stay in Hong Kong lasted until January 2001, when John Paul II appointed him titular archbishop of Volturno and pontifical nuncio in Jordan and Iraq. He remained in Baghdad during the last two years of the regime of Saddam Hussein, and then during the war and for the next three years, until, in March 2006, Pope Benedict XVI transferred him as nuncio to the Philippines. In June 2007 he was appointed Deputy Secretary of State, an office he held until 10 May 2011, the day of his appointment as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Benedict XVI created him a cardinal in the Ordinary Public Consistory of 18 February 2012.

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