Pope Francis greets Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, whom he appointed as the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations in Geneva on June 21, 2023. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Jun 21, 2023 / 08:37 am (CNA).

Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Ettore Balestrero as the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations in Geneva on Wednesday.

As the Holy See’s Switzerland-based representative to the U.N., Balestrero will also be the Holy See’s observer at the World Health Organization, World Trade Organization, and other Geneva-based organizations. 

The 56-year-old Vatican diplomat most recently served as the apostolic nuncio to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he has been based since 2018.

Balestrero was also the Vatican undersecretary for Relations with States from 2009 to 2013 under Secretary Dominique Mamberti. In this role, he was the Vatican’s representative to Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s anti-money-laundering watchdog.

He succeeds Nigerian Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, who was recently appointed to a leadership role in one of the most important dicasteries in the Roman Curia as a secretary for the Vatican’s Dicastery for Evangelization.

Balestrero was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1966 to an American mother and an Italian father. After studying law, he entered seminary and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Rome at the age of 26.

He trained for the Holy See’s foreign service at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and holds a doctorate in canon law. 

Balestrero speaks French, Spanish, German, and Dutch, in addition to fluent English and Italian.

During his diplomatic career he has held positions in South Korea, Mongolia, the Netherlands, and Colombia, where he served as apostolic nuncio from 2013 to 2018.

The Holy See became a Permanent Observer State at the U.N. in 1964. The Holy See’s mission at the United Nations is of key importance for the Holy See’s diplomatic work. The mission aims to communicate the Catholic Church’s centuries of experience to assist the U.N. in realizing peace, justice, human dignity, and humanitarian cooperation and assistance.

Balestrero will serve as one of two Vatican representatives to the U.N. Archbishop Gabriele Caccia is the Holy See’s permanent observer at the U.N. headquarters in New York.