Gabriel Montalvo Higuera

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Gabriel Montalvo Higuera (January 27, 1930—August 2, 2006) was born in Bogotá, Colombia. He was an archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church, and an expiernced diplomat, who was the Papal representative in many trouble spots.[1] From 1998 until 2005. he was the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States


Gabriel Montalvo Higuera was born Jan. 27, 1930, in Bogota, Colombia. His father was at one time Colombian ambassador to the Holy See. Montalvo was ordained a priest on January 18, 1953, just days before his 23rd birthday, and commenced studies at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, which trains priests to serve in the diplomatic corps and the Secretariat of State of the Holy See. Montalvo was fluent in a number of languages, including French, Italian and German.

Ministry and Assignments[edit]

He served at various papal embassies in Bolivia, Argentina and El Salvador before being assigned to the Vatican's Secretariat of State to work on Eastern-bloc relations.[2]

On June 14, 1974, he was appointed titular archbishop of Celene and Apostolic Nuncio to Honduras and Nicaragua, and was consecrated bishop on June 30, 1974, by Pope Paul VI. The following December, Sandanista rebels had kidnapped a number of hostages. Per negotiations, Montalvo was one of those who accompanied the kidnappers' flight to Havana in order to insure their arrival.[2]

On March 18, 1980, Pope John Paul II appointed him Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Algeria and Tunisia and Apostolic Delegate to Libya, but was recalled to Rome in 1982 to assist with the Vatican's successful arbitration of the dispute between Chile and Argentina over the Beagle Channel.[2]

On June 12, 1986, he was appointed Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Yugoslavia and on April 17, 1993, he was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Belarus.[3]

On April 29, 1993, he was appointed President of Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, a position he held for five years.[3]

Apostolic Nuncio to the United States[edit]

Pope John Paul II appointed him Apostolic Nuncio to the United States on December 7, 1998.[3] As the nuncio, he served as the ambassador of Vatican City to the United States, as well as serving as a senior communication link between the Holy See and the Catholic Church in the United States. Clerics receiving appointments from Rome are traditionally informed through him. The nuncio's official residence is the Nunciature to the United States in Washington, DC.

McCarrick affair[edit]

In August 2018, Paul Gregory Bootkoski, former Bishop of Metuchen reported that he hade informed the apostolic nuncio of three complaints regarding McCarrick in December 2005, first by phone, and then in writing. Two were from former priests, and the third, hearsay, to which the relator had put no credence.[4]

On September 7, 2018, Father Boniface Ramsey, pastor of St. Joseph's Church Yorkville in New York City, revealed to the Catholic News Service a 2006 letter from Leonardo Sandri, the former Vatican substitute for general affairs and current Prefect for the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, in which Sandri obliquely referred to Ramsay's own letter of November 2000 to Montalvo concerning rumors of previous inappropriate conduct by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick with seminarians. Salvi's letter confirmed both that Ramsay wrote Montalvo in 2000, and that Montalvo immediately forwarded the letter to the Secretariat.[5]


On December 17, 2005, Montalvo retired from his position as Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, at the mandatory age of seventy-five. Despite his long tenure as nuncio, he was a little-known public figure in the United States, because he shunned media attention.[1] On August 2, 2006, Archbishop Montalvo died in Rome of lung cancer, a disease from which he had been suffering since before his retirement. From his retirement until his death, he was under the care of the Sisters of Mercy at a hospice in Rome.

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Agostino Cacciavillan
Apostolic Nuncio to the United States
7 December 1998 – 17 December 2005
Succeeded by
Pietro Sambi