Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the papal nuncio to Great Britain, is to be transferred to Rome to serve in the Secretariat of State, the department responsible for foreign relations.
Archbishop Mennini, who has been nuncio to Britain for six years, will “serve the Holy Father with particular reference to the State of Italy”, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said in a statement.
“In these matters Archbishop Mennini has unique experience and knowledge which is much appreciated by the Holy See,” he added.
The 69-year-old Italian previously served as nuncio to Russia from 2002 to 2010. During this period the Holy See and Russia established full diplomatic relations.
Archbishop Mennini is known in Italy for serving as a go-between with the Red Brigades, a left-wing paramilitary group, during their kidnapping of prime minister Aldo Moro. After his secret mission the prime minister was murdered. His father, Luigi, served as managing director of the Vatican Bank. One of his 13 siblings, Pietro, is a former chief prosecutor of the city of Chieti.
Cardinal Nichols said: “On behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and in the name of the entire Catholic community, I express our warmest thanks to His Excellency for the service he has given to the Church in our countries. He has been most attentive and sensitive to our needs and situation, while always representing the Holy Father with precision and clarity and sharing insights into the needs of the Universal Church.
“His presence amongst us bishops has always been that of a brother and we have never failed to appreciate his kindness and hospitality.
“We now wish him well in his new appointment to which he will bring insight and wisdom. We assure him of our prayers for this mission and for his own health and well-being.”
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow said: “On behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, I congratulate him on his appointment and thank him for the attentive concern he has shown for the Catholic Church in Scotland on his many visits to our country. He has always been a welcome guest in Scotland and his wise counsel has been valued by the Scottish bishops.
“I thank His Excellency for the sensitive and helpful way he has fulfilled his role as the representative of the Holy Father to our Bishops’ Conference and to the Catholic Church in Scotland, and for his readiness to convey the specific reality of the Catholic Church in Scotland to the Holy See. On behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland and of the entire Catholic community, I assure him of our prayers as he embarks on his new mission.”