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Pope Francis Appoints Beninese Cleric as Holy See Permanent Observer to UNESCO

Credit: Courtesy Photo

Pope Francis has appointed a member of the Clergy from Benin as the representative of the Holy See to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The appointment of Mons. Eric Soviguidi as the Holy See Permanent Observer to UNESCO was announced Tuesday, November 30, and published by the Holy See Press Office.

Mons. Soviguidi who is serving as a Nunciature Counsellor at the Vatican-based Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State is a member of the Clergy of Benin’s Cotonou Archdiocese where he was born in March 1971. He was ordained a Priest in October 1998.

The holder of a degree in Canon Law entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See on 1 July 2005.

He has served in various Apostolic Nunciatures, including Ghana, Tanzania, Haiti, Guatemala, and currently at the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State.

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As the Holy See Permanent Observer to UNESCO, Mons. Soviguidi who “knows French, Italian, English and Spanish” succeeds Italian-born Mons. Francesco Follo who has been at this service since 2002.

Headquartered in France’s capital, Paris, UNESCO was founded on 16 November 1945, in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. 

The UN entity has 193 member States and 11 associate members.

The first Holy See Permanent Observer to UNESCO was Angelo Roncalli, the then Apostolic Nuncio in France; he was elected Pope John XXIII in October 1958 and served as the head of the Catholic Church until his death in June 1963. He was canonized in 2013.

The appointment of Mons. Soviguidi comes barely a month since Pope Francis appointed his compatriot, Mons. Dieudonné Datonou, as his representative in Burundi, assigning him the titular See of Vico Equense in Italy. 

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Both Beninese Vatican diplomats are members of the Clergy of Benin’s Cotonou Archdiocese.