“Unforgettable”: Outgoing Apostolic Nuncio on His Six-year Experience in Nigeria

Catholic Bishops in Nigeria with Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi. Credit: Abuja Archdiocese

The outgoing Apostolic Nuncio in Nigeria has described his six years of diplomatic service in the West African nation of Nigeria as “unforgettable”.

In his speech at the opening of the second Plenary Assembly for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi asked for forgiveness for any wrongs during his tenure as the representative of the Holy Father in Africa’s most populous nation, which he started following his appointment in April 2017.

“I am sure that this experience in the largest country in Africa will not only be unforgettable for me but will enrich the mission that still awaits me in the service of the Church and the Holy See,” Archbishop Filipazzi said during the Sunday, September 10 event.

The Italian-born Vatican diplomat whose transfer to Poland was made public on August 8 said that since he arrived in the country, he “tried to understand as much as possible of the social and ecclesial reality of Nigeria, so grand and complex, and, in the light of the perennial truths of the faith and the discipline of the universal Church.”

“I have tried precisely to recommend that attention be paid to certain aspects to be corrected or certain tendencies to be avoided,” Archbishop Filipazzi recalled, adding that while he enriching experiences in Nigeria, he leaves the country with greater problems and difficulties than he found it.


Some of the problems, he observed, exist within the Church and they “must neither be underestimated nor set aside without an adequate response.” 

There is much work to be done, and I hope this C.B.C.N. Assembly will offer valuable contributions to the life of the Church and society in Nigeria,” the Catholic Archbishop who started his diplomatic service as Apostolic Nuncio in Indonesia in March 2011 said. 

In his September 10 address to Catholic Bishops in Nigeria, Archbishop Fillipazzi said his departure from Nigeria is filled with mixed emotions.

As you may imagine, I have various feelings now, and it is not easy to describe them,” the Catholic Church leader who was ordained Bishop in February 2011 said.

He continued, “I do not pretend to draw up a balance of my mission in this country: I leave it to the Lord to evaluate my work, confident of His goodness and mercy. This also allows me to be free in the face of human judgments, which are always limited both when they are positive and when they are negative.”

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“I thank you for all I have received from you in these years and ask your forgiveness for what I have not done or what I have done wrong,” he said.

“The great good fortune of being in the Church, God's family without borders, is that we can remain united despite the geographical distances,” Archbishop Filipazzi, who was also appointed permanent observer at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in October 2017 told CBCN members in his September 10 address.

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.