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Papal Nuncio bids RP goodbye

MANILA, July 4 2007—“I’m leaving but I will never abandon the Philippines,” thus said outgoing Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Fernando Filoni as he said goodbye to Filipino archbishops and bishops Tuesday—his 37th priesthood anniversary.

Filoni assured the bishops of his prayers and support even if he’s already serving his new post as the Vatican’s Undersecretary of State for General Affairs.

“I will not forget and abandon the Philippines, which I’m linked for a long time,” he said in his farewell message at the start of the bishops’ three-day retreat being held at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila.

He told the bishops that his stay in the country was “meaningful” and will remain “unforgettable.”

Filoni holds the record as the papal representative with the shortest time in service from among the ten Apostolic Nuncios to the Philippines appointed by the Vatican since 1899.

At his short term, Filoni was able to produce at least seven bishops—practically one bishop every two months, since his appointment in February 2006.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), meanwhile, considered the nuncio’s new assignment as both sad and a welcome development.

Sad, CBCP president Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said, because Filoni is leaving the country and good news because he will be the third man to govern the Secretariat of the Vatican State.

“We congratulate our Apostolic Nuncio for his promotion and at the same time we feel sad that his stint here with us has been very short,” said Lagdameo.

Filoni, who is leaving on Thursday, July 5, will formally assume his new post in the Roman Curia within this month.

Pope Benedict XVI has yet to name a new Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines. (Roy Lagarde)