Catholic News Service photo
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, papal nuncio to Haiti, poses for a photo after the 2010 earthquake outside his residence near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Archbishop Auza was named head of the Holy See Observer Mission to the U.N.
Catholic News Service photo
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, papal nuncio to Haiti, poses for a photo after the 2010 earthquake outside his residence near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Archbishop Auza was named head of the Holy See Observer Mission to the U.N.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis named a Filipino archbishop, who helped lead and rebuild the church in Haiti after its devastating earthquake, as the Vatican representative at the United Nations in New York.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, 55, the nuncio to Haiti, was appointed permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, replacing Indian Archbishop Francis Chullikatt. Vatican Radio made the announcement July 1.

Confirming the announcement July 2, the Vatican press office did not say what 61-year-old Archbishop Chullikatt's new assignment would be.

Archbishop Auza was ordained a priest of Diocese of Talibon, Philippines, in 1985. He entered the Vatican diplomatic corps in 1990 and served in Madagascar, Bulgaria and Albania, then worked at the Vatican Secretariat of State. From 2006 to 2008 he worked at the Holy See's Permanent Observer Mission at the United Nations.

Named nuncio to Haiti in 2008, he was serving there when the deadly Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake hit and destroyed much of western Haiti.

With three key Port-au-Prince archdiocesan leaders dead and scores of other religious killed or missing, Archbishop Auza took a leading role in stabilizing and helping rebuild the church. At least 316,000 people  died in the quake.

As nuncio, he was also the key player in channeling relief money from the Vatican and other church sources to local needs and in helping make key decisions on project priorities and spending funds transparently by setting up an independent "inspection" commission.

"We have to start the reconstruction with very solid principles to avoid confusion and disappointments and ill feelings of those who are willing to help," he said a month after the quake.

He helped local projects raise funds and focused efforts on encouraging new and capable church leaders, as well as on building a better and more adequate infrastructure for the church with seminaries, schools,  parishes and housing.