On February 1, Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations hosted Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Christophe Pierre as part of the school’s World Leaders Forum series.
An Apostolic Nuncio is a Roman Catholic archbishop who serves as the Vatican’s ambassador to a particular country or group of countries. He is responsible for maintaining the Holy See’s diplomatic relations with the country or countries assigned to him and for communicating the Pope’s messages and directives to the Catholic Church in a diplomatic setting.
During His Excellency’s lecture, he discussed three main points: bilateral relations, multilateral relations, and the promotion of dialogue and peace. He also addressed the relationship between the Holy See and the Vatican. Archbishop Pierre explained that Vatican diplomacy does not exist as the Vatican does not send or receive Ambassadors; Vatican City is where the Pope lives, and does not engage in diplomatic activities. However, the Pope is the principal diplomatic component of the Holy See. The Pope has full diplomatic status in 183 states, and 91 states have full-time ambassadors at the Holy See. The Holy See is present in international organizations such as a Permanent Observer at the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Archbishop Pierre was born in France on September 30, 1944. He attended school at the Seminary in the Archdiocese of Rennes and at the Catholic Institute of Paris, according to Nuntius USA. His Excellency also received a Canon Law doctorate from Pontifical Lateran University. In 1997, the Papal Nuncio began his diplomatic work at the Holy See. Prior to being appointed Apostolic Nuncio of the United States, the archbishop served in New Zealand, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, Uganda, and Mexico, utilizing his proficiency in languages including French, English, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.
The now-archbishop was ordained a priest of the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris (MEP) in 1970 and worked as a parish priest in the Archdiocese of Algiers. In 1979, he joined the diplomatic service of the Holy See and served in various nunciatures in Africa, Asia, and Europe. In 1998, he was appointed as the Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda and to Rwanda and later to Burundi.
In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop Pierre as the Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, where he served for nine years. During his time in Mexico, Archbishop Pierre was known for his strong commitment to the promotion of human rights, especially for marginalized and vulnerable groups. He also worked closely with the local Catholic Church and the Mexican government to address social and political issues such as poverty, corruption, and drug trafficking.
In 2016, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Pierre as the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. In this role, he has been a visible presence in the American Catholic Church, regularly participating in national and regional events and meetings. He has also been instrumental in promoting the Pope’s initiatives, such as the World Meeting of Families and the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.
Throughout his lecture, Archbishop Pierre highlighted his key priorities as the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, including the promotion of ecumenism and interfaith dialogue. He explained to the audience that he aims to encourage Catholic leaders to reach out to their counterparts within other Christian denominations and to those who practice differing religions in an effort to build bridges of understanding and cooperation. He told Catholic churches in the United States to heighten their engagement in addressing social and political issues such as immigration, race relations, and climate change.
Archbishop Pierre’s work as the Apostolic Nuncio has earned him widespread respect and admiration. He has been praised for his dedication to the Church and his commitment to promoting peace and justice. In recognition of his contributions, he has been awarded several honors, including the Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Sylvester from Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 and the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross from Pope Francis in 2019.