Faustino Sainz Muñoz

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His Excellency, The Most Reverend
Faustino Sainz Muñoz
Archbishop, Nuncio to Great Britain
In office 11 December 2004 - 18 December 2010
Predecessor Pablo Puente Buces
Successor Antonio Mennini
Ordination 19 December 1964
Consecration 18 December 1988
by Agostino Casaroli
Rank Monsignor
Personal details
Born (1937-06-05)June 5, 1937
Almadén, Spain
Died October 31, 2012(2012-10-31) (aged 75)
Madrid, Spain
Nationality Spanish
Denomination Roman Catholic
Styles of
Faustino Sainz Muñoz
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Monsignor
Posthumous style not applicable

Faustino Sainz Muñoz (5 June 1937 – 31 October 2012)[1] was a Spanish prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as the Nuncio to Great Britain from 2004 until December 2010, having been appointed by Pope John Paul II in 2004.


Born in Almadén, Ciudad Real Province, Faustino Sainz Muñoz was ordained to the priesthood on 19 December 1964. He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1970, serving in the Pontifical Representations in Senegal and Scandinavia, and then in the Council of Public Affairs of the Church of the Vatican Secretariat of State. As a junior diplomat in Finland, he was dispatched as part of the Holy See's delegation to the preparatory talks of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) in 1975; the delegation diligently ensured that religious freedom was included in the Helsinki Accords. Upon his returning to the Vatican that same year, Sainz was made the Holy See’s liaison with Poland, Hungary, and later the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

He traveled to Latin America in 1978, where he accompanied Antonio Cardinal Samoré in successfully averting war between Chile and Argentina over the Beagle conflict.[2][3] Sainz, who accompanied Pope John Paul on his visit to his native Poland in June 1979, describes the crowd's applause during the Pope's homily at a Mass on Victory Square in Warsaw as “an image that [he] cannot forget...it was the beginning of the end of Communism in Poland”.[2]

On 29 October 1988, he was appointed Pro-Nuncio to Cuba and Titular Archbishop of Novaliciana by John Paul. Sainz received his episcopal consecration on the following 18 December (a day before his twenty-fourth anniversary of priestly ordination) from Agostino Cardinal Casaroli, with Ángel Cardinal Suquía Goicoechea and Archbishop Maximino Romero de Lema serving as co-consecrators. While in this post, he held many discussions with Fidel Castro about episcopal cooperation in improving the position of the Cuban Church and the welfare of the Cuban people.[2]

Sainz was later named Nuncio to the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 7 October 1992 (offering the nunciature as a place of relief and refuge to those persecuted during the Rwandan Genocide), to the European Community on 21 January 1999, and to Great Britain on 11 December 2004. The Archbishop believes in obedience to Church doctrine, once stating, "Thinking changes, society changes, fashion changes. But the central concept of human dignity from conception does not change".[2] Despite this, he has shown himself a keen supporter of the Catholic weekly, The Tablet, often criticised for its left-leaning, anti-Roman views. Saintz Muñoz sent his condolences on 29 October 2009 to His Holiness, Luis Fernando Castillo Mendez, Patriarch of ICAB, an independent church.[4]

On 16 May 2010 Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz suffered a mild stroke.[5] He received medical care in hospital in Spain. Despite this, the Archbishop was present when Pope Benedict XVI arrived at Edinburgh airport, being the first to welcome him, and being present throughout the papal visit which occurred on September 2010. On 12 November 2010 Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz has announced his retirement as papal nuncio to Great Britain during thanksgiving Mass for the papal visit at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh.[6] On 2 December 2010 a Mass of thanksgiving was celebrated at Westminster Cathedral, which marked the end of his role as papal nuncio to Great Britain.

Last years[edit]

On 28 January 2011 Archbishop had his audience with Pope Benedict XVI.[7] Archbishop Sainz Muñoz was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour, and returned to his native Spain where he received his chemotherapy. He died there on 31 October 2012.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Archbishop Sainz Muñoz was a Real Madrid fan, and a walking and tennis enthusiast.[2] He held a doctorate in canon law,[9] and was awarded an honorary doctorate in laws from the University of Aberdeen on 2 July 2007.[10] Besides his native Spanish, he spoke English, French, and Italian.[9]


  1. ^ "Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz". Catholic-Hierarchy.org. David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Diplomat Magazine. His Excellency Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz, the Apostolic Nuncio July/August 2005
  3. ^ TIME Magazine. War Averted January 22, 1979
  4. ^ http://www.ccofew.com/h-h-patriarch-of-brazil
  5. ^ "Apostolic Nuncio taken ill". Diocese of Westminster. 2010-05-20. 
  6. ^ "Nuncio to Great Britain to retire due to ill health". CatholicHerald.co.uk. 2010-11-12. 
  7. ^ "Benedict XVI meets outgoing nuncio to Britain". Catholicherald.co.uk. 2011-01-28. 
  8. ^ http://www.sconews.co.uk/news/23196/former-nuncio-dies-scottish-bishops-send-condolences/
  9. ^ a b The Catholic Church in England and Wales. Pope appoints new Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain 14 December 2004
  10. ^ University of Aberdeen. Sir Steve Redgrave honoured by Aberdeen 26 June 2007
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Giulio Einaudi
Pro-Nuncio to Cuba
Succeeded by
Beniamino Stella
Preceded by
Alfio Rapisarda
Nuncio to the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Succeeded by
Francisco-Javier Lozano
Preceded by
Angelo Pedroni
Nuncio to the European Community
Succeeded by
André Dupuy
Preceded by
Pablo Puente Buces
Nuncio to Great Britain
2004–18 December 2010
Succeeded by
Antonio Mennini