Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Christophe Pierre to serve as the next Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, and through this appointment Pope Francis continues to demonstrate his care and concern for the Church in our country.
Archbishop Pierre is a native of France, and as a young priest, attended the Academy in Rome which trains priests to serve in the diplomatic service of the Holy See.
In 1995, Father Pierre was appointed as the Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti, and ordained as Archbishop. His first posting to this country, the poorest in the western hemisphere, came at a time of great political unrest in Haiti. There was great tension and conflict between the president and the military, and the United Nations had to intervene to help establish order.
This first posting to such a poor and desperate nation provided Archbishop Pierre with the opportunity to serve some of the poorest people in the world, and to help guide the Church in its efforts to bring a sense of dignity and human rights to the population. This posting helped Archbishop Pierre understand the plight of desperate peoples living in abject poverty, and to bring the Church's influence to assist them.
In 1999 Archbishop Pierre was sent to Uganda, Africa, to serve as Apostolic Nuncio to that country. Here he encountered another poor and embattled country. For eight years, Archbishop Pierre assisted the Church deal with civil war, the brutal Lord's Resistance Army terrorist group, and the massive displacement of peoples because of the unrest and attacks upon people in their villages. Poverty, refugees, hunger, and terror were the order of the day during his tenure in this country.
Then, in 2007 Archbishop Pierre was assigned as the Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, our neighbor to the south. During his nine years in that post he experienced the upheaval created by gangs and cartels involved in human trafficking and narcotics trafficking. He saw first-hand poverty, the lack of adequate employment, and the flow of immigrants and refugees from neighboring countries to the south into Mexico, and then the trans-migration of so many into the United States to the north.
He surely understood the plight of families, single people, and unaccompanied minors fleeing every form of terror, cartel atrocities, drugs, and hopelessness--all people seeking safety, dignity, and some hope for a better future.
During the visit of Pope Francis to Mexico in February of this year, it was Archbishop Pierre who helped shape the itinerary so that Pope Francis would visit both borders: Chiapas in the south bordering Guatemala, and Ciudad Juarez in the north bordering the United States. Pope Francis celebrated Mass along both borders.
Archbishop Pierre also made certain that Pope Francis would celebrate Mass some distance outside Mexico City in the gritty community of Ecatepec--where hundreds of thousands live in abject poverty. Pope Francis also visited Morelia in the very heart of a Mexican State very much in the grip of the drug cartels, and where so many people have been murdered and disappeared.
Pope Francis has sent us a new Nuncio whose heart, soul, and ministry have been shaped by Jesus Christ in his outreach to those on the outskirts of society. I cannot imagine our receiving a new Nuncio whose life and ministry more reflects the concerns and commitment of Pope Francis himself.
In my opinion, Pope Francis has sent into our midst a Nuncio who will both proclaim and demonstrate the message of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, towards the most vulnerable and needy in our midst, echoing the ministry of Pope Francis in our midst.
We are truly blessed with this appointment, and may God give him many blessed years among us!