Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto 370.
(photo credit: Apostolic Delegation in jerusalem and Palestine)
The Vatican has appointed a new papal ambassador to Israel, to replace outgoing Archbishop Antonio Franco after six years of service in the post.
The new papal nuncio, as the ambassador is known, will be Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto. Additionally, he will serve as the apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, which also has jurisdiction over Cyprus.
Apostolic delegates are sent to states or territories with which the Vatican has no formal diplomatic ties, and serve as a liaison with the Catholic Church in that region while also conducting informal diplomatic duties.
Lazzarotto, who was appointed on Saturday by Pope Benedict XVI, has been serving as papal envoy to Australia since 2007, and will take up his post in Israel in the coming months.
Between 1994 and 2000, he was apostolic nuncio to Iraq and Jordan.
Lazzarotto has already spent time in the diplomatic service in the Palestinian territories, as part of the Apostolic Delegation of the Holy See in Jerusalem and Palestine, from 1982 to 1984.
Speaking to Vatican Radio on Saturday, Lazzarotto, 70, said that the role was “a major challenge,” but one he “accepts with joy” in which he will “continue to offer [his] full contribution to dialogue and peace.”
“There are many men and women of good will who live in the Holy Land and who strive daily, one step after the other, because this way to peace is finally open to all,” he said.
“[Peace] is my greatest desire, my aspiration and my hope.”
Speaking about the Christian community in Israel and the wider Middle East, the archbishop said they “live their commitment, their testimony of faith...through small gestures of fraternity, small gestures of understanding, dialogue and friendship.
“I believe that this is the necessary path, towards achieving the great aspiration of living together in harmony and fellowship and to be a living witness of the risen Lord,” he said.
Lazzarotto was born in Carpanè, Vicenza in 1942 and was ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Padua in 1967.
He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1971 and served in various countries in Africa and Europe, before being appointed titular archbishop of Numana, on Italy’s eastern seaboard, in 1994.