HAVANA, Cuba, JULY 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI named Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu as apostolic nuncio to Cuba today.
A Vatican communiqué announced the appointment of the 61-year-old prelate, formerly the nuncio to Angola and São Tomé and Principe since 2001.
In this position, Archbishop Becciu was one of the Church authorities who welcomed the Pope in the Luanda airport last March, during the Pontiff’s visit to Africa.
Born in the Italian region of Pattada, Giovanni Angelo Becciu was ordained a priest in 1972.
He succeeds Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, who in March was appointed as nuncio to Lithuania and Estonia.
Cuba has over 11 million inhabitants, the majority of whom are Catholic.
The president of the Cuban bishops’ conference, Archbishop Dionisio García Ibáñez of Santiago de Cuba, explained last April that the major challenge of the Church in that country is building communication with the state authorities.
He noted that the country is undergoing changes, and that there is a “more positive understanding” of the religion.
The archbishop explained that this is due to a greater closeness with Latin America, where the Cuban authorities have seen that “the faith is very present in the life of society.”
The prelate also observed a “greater tolerance toward religious practice” in the country, and openness to “the participation of Christians in various social structures.”