Nigerian Priest Appointed Under-Secretary for Dicastery for Integral Human Development

Fr. Anthony Onyemuche Ekpo, appointed new Under-Secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD) on 18 April 2023. Credit: Vatican Media

A Nigerian Priest has been appointed as new Under-Secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD).

Pope Francis appointed Fr. Anthony Onyemuche Ekpo to the Vatican Dicastery that he established in August 2016 in a new Motu Proprio, Humanam Progressionem, on Tuesday, April 18. 

The member of Clergy of the Catholic Diocese of Umuahia in Nigeria has been an official in the General Affairs Section of the Vatican Secretariat of State since September 2016.

At the time of his appointment, the Nigerian Catholic Priest was also serving as Chaplain to Pope Francis, a role he has been playing since his appointment on 17 March 2023. 

Born in September 1981, Fr. Ekpo was ordained a Priest for Umuahia Diocese in July 2011.


The holder of a Doctorate in Systematic Theology from the Australian Catholic University and a Doctorate in Canon Law from the Rome-based Pontifical Gregorian University speaks English, Italian and French in addition to his native language, Igbo.

In a statement published after his appointment was made public, Fr. Ekpo has expressed his gratitude to Pope Francis, saying that he is “very grateful to the Holy Father for this unexpected assignment and for his trust.”

“I also express my gratitude to Superiors and colleagues at the Secretariat of State for the friendship and the work shared in these years,” Fr. Ekpo further says.

He implores, “I humbly pray the Lord to give me the grace to carry out, with joy, passion and dedication, this new service that has been entrusted to me.” 

“My desire is to be able to collaborate with the Superiors and employees of the Dicastery to carry forward the vision of the Dicastery and the mission of the Church,” the Nigerian Catholic Priest says. 

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As an Under-Secretary, Fr. Ekpo is expected to work alongside Prefect Cardinal Michael Czerny, Secretary, Sr. Alessandra Smerilli, and Fr. Fabio Baggio, the Under-Secretary in-charge of migrants and refugees.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.