Apostolic Nuncio in DR Congo Appointed Holy See Permanent Observer to UN in Geneva

Pope Francis greets Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, whom he appointed as the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations in Geneva on June 21, 2023. | Vatican Media

Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, the Apostolic Nuncio in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as the representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva.

Archbishop Balestrero is also to serve at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Holy See Representative at the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The appointment of the Italian-born Archbishop as the Holy See Permanent Observer to the UN was announced Wednesday, June 21 and published by the Holy See Press Office.

He succeeds Nigerian-born Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, who was, on March 15, appointed Secretary for the Vatican’s Dicastery for Evangelization.

Born in Genoa, Italy, in 1966 to an American mother and an Italian father, Archbishop Balestrero was ordained a Priest for the Diocese of Rome at the age of 26.


He trained for the Holy See’s foreign service at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and holds a doctorate in canon law. 

The Catholic Archbishop was the Vatican undersecretary for Relations with States from 2009 to 2013 under Secretary Dominique François Joseph Cardinal Mamberti. In this role, he was the Vatican’s representative to Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s anti-money-laundering watchdog.

The 56-year-old Italian Archbishop served in the Vatican Diplomatic missions in South Korea, Mongolia, the Netherlands, and Colombia, where he served as Apostolic Nuncio from 2013 to 2018.

As Apostolic Nuncio in DRC, Archbishop Balestrero who speaks French, Spanish, German, and Dutch, in addition to English and Italian played an important role during Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to DRC and South Sudan earlier this year.

Prior to the visit, the Vatican diplomat highlighted the Holy Father’s “friendship, solidarity, and closeness” with the people of God in the Central African nation.

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“The Pope wants to show through this visit the friendship, solidarity, sympathy, and closeness of the universal Church towards the Catholic Church in DRC,” Archbishop Balestrero said during a January 9 press conference.

He also encouraged the people of God to prepare their hearts to welcome Pope Francis. 

Archbishop Balestrero has also championed the need for peaceful elections in DRC.

Speaking to journalists in October 2022 after an audience with the President of the National Assembly, Christophe Mboso, Archbishop Balestrero underscored the need for inclusive, credible, and peaceful general elections in 2023.

He is to serve as one of two Vatican representatives to the U.N.; the other is Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, who is the Holy See’s permanent observer at the U.N. headquarters in New York.


Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.