Fernando Filoni

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His Eminence
Fernando Filoni
J.C.D., PhD
Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
114 News Cittadinanzaonoraria020.jpg
Delivery of the honorary citizenship of the town of Galatone to Archbishop Fernando Filoni (2007)
See Volturnum (titular see)
Appointed 10 May 2011
Predecessor Ivan Dias
Other posts
  • President of the Interdicasterial Commission for Consecrated Religious
  • Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Urbaniana University
  • Cardinal-Deacon of Nostra Signora di Coromoto in San Giovanni di Dio
Ordination 3 July 1979
by Antonio Rosario Mennonna
Consecration 19 March 2001
by John Paul II
assisted by Angelo Sodano and Giovanni Battista Re
Created Cardinal 18 February 2012
by Benedict XVI
Rank Cardinal-Deacon
Personal details
Birth name Fernando Filoni
Born (1946-04-15) 15 April 1946 (age 71)
Manduria, Italy
Nationality Italian
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post
  • Apostolic Nuncio to Iraq (2001–2006)
  • Apostolic Nuncio to Jordan (2001–2006)
  • Apostolic Nuncio to Philippines (2006–2007)
  • Substitute of the Secretariat of State (2007–2011)
Alma mater Pontifical Lateran University
  • Lumen Gentium Christus
  • (Christ, Light of the nations)
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}
Styles of
Fernando Filoni
Coat of arms of Fernando Filoni.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

Fernando Filoni (born 15 April 1946) is a Cardinal of the Catholic Church and Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in the Roman Curia since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on 10 May 2011. Cardinal Filoni is an expert in Chinese affairs and on the Middle East.[1]

Education and early diplomatic work[edit]

Filoni was born near Taranto, Italy. He entered the seminary and earned doctorates in Philosophy and in Canon Law from the Pontifical Lateran University. He was ordained a priest on 3 July 1970. He served in the Nunciatures of Sri Lanka from 1982 until 1983, Iran from 1983–1985, Brazil from 1989–1992 and the Philippines from 1992 until 2001. Although formally assigned to the Apostolic Nunciature to the Philippines, he was based in Hong Kong. During this time Archbishop Filoni was Pope John Paul II’s bridge to China's bishops, official and non-official Churches and bishops, in the hope of reconciling them to the Holy See.

Apostolic Nuncio[edit]

Pope John Paul II appointed Father Filoni apostolic nuncio to Iraq and Jordan on 17 January 2001, naming him titular Archbishop of Volturnum. He received episcopal consecration from Pope John Paul II on 19 March 2001.

Archbishop Filoni defended the freedom of the Catholic Church in Iraq under the regime of Saddam Hussein and – in line with the Pope's position – opposed the US invasion of the country.[citation needed] He remained in Baghdad as American bombs fell, refusing to leave the capital, to which he says that "It was nothing exceptional".[citation needed] After the fall of Saddam he did not fail to notice some new aspects of peoples new found freedom. Yet he also warned against the lack of security and the slow development of the economy, while supporting the new constitution[citation needed] and supporting the peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims.

He came close to being killed in Baghdad on 1 February 2006, when a car bomb exploded next to the nunciature.[citation needed] He served in Iraq and Jordan until 25 February 2006 when he returned to the Philippines as the Nuncio.

Roman Curia[edit]

Pope Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop Filoni Substitute for General Affairs on 9 June 2007, formally taking office on 1 July that same year.

It was Filoni's job to organise the activities of the Curia and the care of official translations of papal documents and correspondence; encryption dispatches messengers to be sent to the Registry of the papal letters, the resolution of legal issues, personnel management in the Curia and nunciatures (promotions and advances), the protocol and etiquette for visiting heads of state, information and media management Vatican archive management to shipping the blessings of the Pope. He is also responsible for organizing the activities of nuncios around the world in their activities concerning the local churches. As well as speaking his native Italian, he also speaks English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

Commenting on his appointment he said: “It is an act of paternal benevolence on the part of the Pontiff, to which I respond without the slightest trepidation, but with the same willingness and profound gratitude I have had in the past. The wonderful words of Our Lord aid me at this time, those found in Luke (17, 10), on the attitude of those called into the Christ's service: ‘When you have done all you have been commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do'.”.

In 2008 Archbishop Filoni was awarded the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.[2]

On 10 May 2011, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Filoni Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in succession to Ivan Cardinal Dias, who had reached retirement age and had worsening diabetes. The Prefect oversees the Catholic mission territories and is traditionally dubbed the "Red Pope" as a reflection of both the power of his congregation and the red vestments of the Cardinal Prefect. The office's sizable resources (furnished by income from its long-maintained Roman real-estate holdings) provide a significant amount of funding to the efforts of the developing church, and the congregation's cardinals are responsible for recommending appointees to the episcopacy in mission areas, mainly African and Asian countries, a task that falls to the Congregation for Bishops in more established locales. Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai is Secretary (Filoni's deputy) of the Congregation. Their knowledge of China and the government-controlled Chinese church will be crucial in resolving diplomatic issues between the two entities.

It was announced on 6 January that he would be created a cardinal on 18 February. He was created Cardinal-Deacon of Nostra Signora di Coromoto in San Giovanni di Dio. On 24 April 2012 Cardinal Filoni was made a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and the Congregation for Catholic Education.[3] On 24 November 2012 he was appointed a member of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.[4] He will hold these memberships until his 80th birthday. Cardinal Filoni took part in the 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis, and was considered to be a papabile, or possible candidate to be elected pope. [5]

On Friday, 8 August 2014, in light of the worsening situation for the Christian minority in Iraq, caused by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's (ISIL) actions, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Filoni, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and an expert in Asian affairs, to be his Personal Envoy to the Iraqi people. [6][7] Based on his service to the peoples of that region, Filoni wrote The Church in Iraq. [8]


Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Giuseppe Lazzarotto
Apostolic Nuncio to Iraq
17 January 2001 – 25 February 2006
Succeeded by
Francis Chullikatt
Apostolic Nuncio to Jordan
17 January 2001 – 25 February 2006
Preceded by
Antonio Franco
Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines
25 February 2006 – 9 June 2007
Succeeded by
Edward Joseph Adams
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Leonardo Sandri
Substitute for General Affairs
1 July 2007 – 10 May 2011
Succeeded by
Giovanni Angelo Becciu
Preceded by
Ivan Dias
Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
10 May 2011 – present
President of the Interdicasterial Commission for Consecrated Religious
10 May 2011 – present
Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Urbaniana University
10 May 2011 – present