Home / Faith / Pope Francis appoints Nigerian-born Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu to new position; Peter Obi hails
Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu with Pope Francis

Pope Francis appoints Nigerian-born Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu to new position; Peter Obi hails

Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu

Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu has been appointed the Secretary of the Section of First Evangelization of the Dicastery for Evangelization, and the New Particular Churches by Pope Francis.

Born on May 10, 1960 in Ntigha, in present-day Abia State, Archbishop Nwachukwu joined the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See in 1994 and has held key positions in the Catholic Church.

Labour Party (LP) Presidential Candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, in a recent tweet, congratulated the Cleric on his latest appointment, and acknowledged that he “has served in many exalted positions in the course of his priestly vocation,” noting that by this appointment, he “has become a pro perfect in the church.

“On behalf of my family, I rejoice with and heartily congratulate the Nigerian-born Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, who was recently appointed by the Pope, as the Secretary of the Dicastery for Evangelisation, Section for First Evangelisation, and the New Particular Churches,” Mr. Obi said, pointing out that the Archbishop’s “journey to greater heights in his vocation, tells a story of hard work, commitment and diligence.

“His story reminds us as Nigerians, that we are capable of achieving greater things if we believe, work hard and remain hopeful.” Obi, thereafter, prayed “for God to give Archbishop Nwachukwu the grace, wisdom and strength to function in his new office.”

Fortunatus Nwachukwu entered Immaculate Conception Seminary in Ahiaeke Umuahia in January 1972 and taught Mathematics and Latin there from 1975 to 1977. He then studied at the Philosophy Faculty of the Bigard Memorial Seminary in Ikot Ekpene. He continued at the Theology Faculty from 1980 to 1984, earning his Bachelor of Divinity degree summa cum laude. He was ordained a Priest for the Diocese of Umuahia on 17 June 1984 by Bishop Anthony Gogo Nwedo in St. Eugene Parish Church in Aba and incardinated in the newly created Diocese of Aba on 2 April 1990.

 After ordination he taught and then became Vice-Rector of the Immaculate Conception Seminary and parochial Vicar and Administrator of the St Anne’s Parish in Ibeku, from 1984 to 1986. At the same time, he was diocesan vocations director and Chaplain of the Federal College of Agriculture and the Umuahia Campus of Alvan Ikoku College of Education, both in Umudike-Umuahia.

Beginning in 1986 he studied at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule, Sankt Georgen, in Frankfurt, Germany. He earned a doctorate in Theology at the Pontifical Urban University in 1994 with a dissertation on “The Birth of Systematic Theology in Contemporary Black Africa: An Investigation Into New Interpretations of the Christian Faith by the Newly Evangelized.”

He also studied diplomacy for two years at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and entered the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See on 1 July 1994. His first assignments were in Ghana, Paraguay, Algeria, and Geneva. He then worked in Rome in the Second Section of the Secretariat of State. At the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Acquinas, Angelicum he completed a doctorate in Canon Law in 1996 with a dissertation entitled “Canons 364 and 365, the Holy See and the State of Israel: An Example of the Logic of Pontifical Diplomacy.”

He was appointed Chief of Protocol of the Secretariat of State on 4 September 2007. He speaks a number of languages including English, Italian, German, French, Spanish, in addition to Arabic.

On 12 November 2012, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Titular Archbishop of Aquaviva and Apostolic Nuncio to Nicaragua. Pope Benedict consecrated him a Bishop on 6 January 2013.

On 4 November 2017 Pope Francis appointed him Apostolic Nuncio to Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Guyana, and Apostolic Delegate to the Antilles. He received additional assignments: as Apostolic Nuncio to Saint Lucia, Grenada, and the Bahamas on 27 February 2018; as Apostolic Nuncio to Suriname on 9 March 2018; and Apostolic Nuncio to Belize on 8 September 2018.

On 17 December 2021, Pope Francis named him Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva and at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Holy See Representative at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). During his last month in this position, he addressed the Human Rights Council on the deprivation of human rights in Nicaragua, noting “the reported closure of several independent media outlets and non-governmental organizations, including faith-based organizations, and the allegations of the systematic use of violence by law enforcement in a climate of general impunity.”

On 23 December 2021, following his Christmas address to senior members of the Roman Curia, Pope Francis gave each attendee three books he recommended, including Nwachukwu’s recent work on gossip, The Abused Word.

On 15 March 2023, Pope Francis named him Secretary of the Section of First Evangelization of the Dicastery for Evangelization.

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