Apostolic Nuncio

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Karl-Josef Rauber; Nuncio for Belgium
Nuncio is an ecclesiastical diplomatic title, derived from the ancient Latin Nuntius, meaning any envoy. This article treats that title as well as derived similar titles, all in the Roman Catholic Church.

Terminology and history

A Papal Nuncio (officially known as an Apostolic Nuncio) is a permanent diplomatic representative (head of diplomatic mission) of the Holy See to a state or international organization (e.g., the Arab League), having the rank of an ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary, usually with the ecclesiastical rank of titular archbishop. Under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a papal nuncio is an ambassador like those from any other country. However in some Catholic countries, a papal nuncio is accorded seniority over others of ambassadorial rank accredited to the same country, and holds the deanship of that country's diplomatic corps regardless of seniority.

In addition, the Nuncio serves as the liaison between the Holy See and the Roman Catholic diocesan episcopate in the nation or region to which he is assigned. The national or regional episcopate is usually supervised by a national conference of bishops, whose presiding officer is often the highest ranking bishop or archbishop of that nation, or is elected from the diocesean ordinaries of the nation or region.

Formerly, the title Internuncio denoted a papal diplomatic representative of the second class, corresponding to Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary as a title for diplomatic representatives of states (cf. Article 14, par. 2 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations). Before 1829, internuncio was the title applied instead to the interim head of a mission when one Nuncio had left office and his replacement had not yet assumed it.

A legate a latere is a temporary papal representative or a representative for a special purpose.

Historically, the most important type of apocrisiary (a title also applying to representatives exchanged by a high prelate with a Patriarch) was the equivalent of a nuncio, sent by the Pope to the Byzantine Empire; during the fifth and sixth centuries, when much of Italy remained under Byzantine control, several Popes were former apocrisiaries.

Pro-Nuncio was a term used from 1965 to 1991 for a papal diplomatic representative of full ambassadorial rank accredited to a country that did not accord him precedence over other ambassadors and de jure deanship of the Diplomatic Corps in accordance with the Vienna Convention. In those countries, the papal representative's precedence within the corps is exactly on a par with that of the other members of ambassadorial rank, so that he becomes dean only on becoming the senior member of the corps.

For nations with whom the Holy See has no diplomatic ties, an Apostolic Delegate is sent to serve as a liaison with the Roman Catholic Church in that nation, though not accredited to the government of the state. Apostolic delegates have the same ecclesiastical rank as nuncios, but have no formal diplomatic status, though in some countries they have some diplomatic privileges. An apostolic delegate served as the papal representative to the United States and the United Kingdom until both major Anglo-Saxon states with a predominantly Protestant tradition established formal relations with the Holy See in the late twentieth century, allowing for the appointment of a Papal Nuncio (see the list of British Ambassadors to the Holy See); Cardinal Pio Laghi, for example, was first apostolic delegate, then pro-nuncio, to the United States during the Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush presidencies.

Apostolic delegates are also sent to episcopal conferences that include more than one nation, such as the Antilles Episcopal Conference and the Scandinavian Bishops Conference. These delegates are most likely appointed nuncio to all or many of the nations covered by their delegation.

Article 16 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations provides:
1) Heads of mission shall take precedence in their respective classes in the order of the date and time of taking up their functions in accordance with Article 13.
2) Alterations in the credentials of a head of mission not involving any change of class shall not affect his precedence.
3) This article is without prejudice to any practice accepted by the receiving State regarding the precedence of the representative of the Holy See.


In accordance with this article, many states (even not predominantly Catholic ones such as Germany and Switzerland and including the great majority in central and western Europe and in the Americas) give precedence to the Nuncio over other diplomatic representatives, according him the position of Dean of the Diplomatic Corps reserved in other countries for the longest-serving resident ambassador.

List of diplomatic posts of the Holy See

The Pope accredits diplomats with the following states and other subjects of international law (list as per Spring 2006):

Nunciatures

  • In Europe: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, European Union, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine,
  • In Africa: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroun, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Congo (Republic of), Congo (Democratic Republic of), Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho , Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sénégal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  • In the Americas: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, México, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela
  • In Asia: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China (Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Yemen
  • In Oceania: Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, East Timor, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu
  • United Nations
The only countries with which the Holy See still does not have relations. There are seventeen. Nine of these are Muslim: Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Brunei, Comoros, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mauritania, Oman, and Somalia. Another four are run by communist regimes: China, North Korea, Laos, and Vietnam. The remaining four are Bhutan, Botswana, Burma, and Tuvalu [1].

Delegations

  • in Africa: Comoros, Mauritania and Libya
  • in Asia: Jerusalem and Palestine, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar/Burma and Viêt Nam

See also

Sources and external links

The system of diplomatic rank has over time been formalised on an international basis.

Traditional diplomacy

Until the early 19th Century, each European nation had its own system of diplomatic rank.
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Latin}}} 
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The system of diplomatic rank has over time been formalised on an international basis.

Traditional diplomacy

Until the early 19th Century, each European nation had its own system of diplomatic rank.
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The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is an international treaty on diplomatic intercourse and the privileges and immunities of a diplomatic mission. Adopted on April 18, 1961 by the United Nations Conference on Diplomatic Intercourse and Immunities held in Vienna, Austria,
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Papal Legate – from the Latin, authentic Roman title Legatus – is a personal representative of the Pope to Foreign nations, or to some part of the Catholic Church. He is empowered on matters of Catholic Faith and for the settlement of ecclesiastical matters.
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An apocrisiarius (Latinized from the Greek Αποκρισιάριος; sometimes Anglicized as Apocrisiary) was a high diplomatic representative during Late Antiquity and the early medieval period.
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Byzantine Empire or Byzantium is the term conventionally used since the 19th century to describe the Greek-speaking Roman Empire of the Middle Ages, centered on its capital of Constantinople.
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