Facts on Archbishop Nwachukwu, Holy See’s New UN Permanent Representative

Facts on Archbishop Nwachukwu, Holy See’s New UN Permanent Representative

Monday, December 20, 2021 10:54 am

Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, right, and Pope Francis

By Richard Elesho

A Nigerian Catholic Priest, Apostolic Nuncio and polyglot Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, has been handed new responsibilities at the United Nations, UN and the World Trade Organisation, WTO, by the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis.

Fr. Nwachukwu, who took his roots from the Catholic Diocese of Aba, Abia State is to serve as Permanent Observer of the Holy See – the Vatican – to the United Nations Office and Specialised Institutions in Geneva.

The Pope also appointed Archbishop Nwachukwu as a permanent observer to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Representative of the Vatican to the International Migrations Organisation (IOM).

The appointment is contained in a press release by the Office of the Antilles Episcopal Conference Secretariat, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on Friday, December 17, 2021, where Archbishop Nwachukwu is currently serving as Apostolic Nuncio.

The Nigeria Tribune reports that until his appointment, Archbishop Nwachukwu was transferred from Nicaragua to the current Mission in Trinidad and Tobago on November 4, 2017 and he assumed office on March 19, 2018.

According to the new appointment, Archbishop Nwachukwu will still remain in charge of the Mission in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean and Antilles, until he departs for the new mission at the United Nations at the beginning of March 2022.

The appointee has been in the diplomatic service of the Holy See for nearly three decades.

Education/ Career
Nwachukwu was born on May 10, 1960, in Umuokoro, Eziama-Ntigha, in Isia-Ala Ngwa North Local Government Area of Abia State. He was ordained a Priest of the Catholic Diocese of Aba, Abia State on 17th June, 1984. Ten years later he joined the Vatican’s diplomatic service.

He started his education in January 1972, at the Immaculate Conception Seminary, Ahiaeke Umuahia, at the age of 11.

Three years later, in 1975, he and some of his classmates were allowed to sit the last London GCE, before the West African Examination Council (WAEC) took over the organisation of the secondary school final examinations. His result was excellent.

He then taught Mathematics and Latin in the same seminary until 1977, when he was sent to continue his priestly formation at the newly opened Philosophy Faculty of the Bigard Memorial Seminary at Ikot Ekpene.

From 1980 to 1984 he completed his seminary formation at the Theology Faculty of the same Bigard Memorial Seminary at Enugu. He studied theology and canon law.

He passed his Bachelor of Divinity examinations with a summa cum laude and was honoured to give the valedictory speech at the graduation of his class. That same year, 1984, on 17 June, the late Bishop of Umuahia, Rt. Rev. Anthony Gogo Nwedo, C.S.Sp., ordained him to the Catholic priesthood for the Diocese of Umuahia, at St Eugene’s Parish Church in Aba. He would later be transferred to the Diocese of Aba when it was created in 1990.

After his priestly ordination, Fr. Fortunatus worked as a teacher and later as vice-rector of the Immaculate Conception Seminary, Umuahia, as well as parochial vicar and administrator of the St Anne’s Parish, Ibeku (1984-1986).

Concurrently, he served as the Diocesan vocations’ director, as well as the chaplain of the Federal College of Agriculture and the Umuahia Campus of Alvan Ikoku College of Education, both in Umudike-Umuahia.

In 1986, he was sent to Rome for specialization studies. He studied Scriptures at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule, Sankt Georgen, in Frankfurt, Germany. He also studied diplomacy at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy before entering the diplomatic service of the Holy See. He has also served in many African countries including Ghana and Algeria,

Not yet satisfied, Nwachukwu enrolled for a doctorate at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum. He specialised in canon law and completed the program in 1996, with a dissertation entitled “Canons 364 and 365, the Holy See and the State of Israel: an example of the logic of pontifical diplomacy.”

Archbishop Nwachukwu speaks and understands several languages, beyond his mother tongue, Igbo, including English, Italian, German, French, Spanish, modern Hebrew and a bit of Arabic, as well as some ancient languages of Biblical research namely, Latin, Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.

Without doubt, Archbishop Nwachukwu is in familiar terrain.

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