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Pope Francis names Nigerian Vatican diplomat papal ambassador to Dublin

15 May 2017 | by Christopher Lamb

Archbishop Jude Okolo is a career diplomat who speaks six languages including English

 

The Pope has named Archbishop Jude Okolo as his new ambassador to Ireland, a position that gives the Nigerian prelate a high level of responsibility in helping to organise next year’s papal visit to Dublin. The archbishop is a career diplomat who speaks six languages and is due to arrive in Ireland over the summer, a year before Francis is expected in Ireland for the World Meeting of Families. 

He will succeed Archbishop Charles Brown who served as the apostolic nuncio from 2011-17 before being sent to Albania. Archbishop Brown took over following after relations had been strained between Ireland and the Holy See due to the scandal of child sexual abuse: Dublin had pulled their resident ambassador to the Vatican, a decision that was later reversed. 

Archbishop Okolo takes over at a time when relations are warmer, and the prospect of a papal visit in August of 2018, which would be the first in almost 40 years. His job will be to act as the official liaison between Ireland and the Vatican, while also playing an important internal role in helping to appoint new bishops. 

The 61-year-old archbishop was first posted in Sri Lanka in 1990 and after which had stints in Haiti, a number of islands in the Caribbean, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Australia. 

His first ambassadorship posting was to the Central African Republic in 2008 - a conflict ridden country which the Pope visited in 2015 - and most recently has been nuncio to the Dominican Republic and Apostolic Delegate to Puerto Rico. 

The archbishop speaks Igbo (language of the Igbo ethnic group based in south east Nigeria), English, French, Italian, Czech, Spanish and German and his interests include sacred music, piano, reading and table tennis.



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