Vatican envoy to Malaysia to head Holy See academy

ABKUALA LUMPUR: Vatican ambassador to Malaysia Archbishop Joseph Salvador Marino has been appointed as president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome, which is where the Holy See’s diplomats are trained.

The appointment was made by Pope Francis in an announcement in Rome on Oct 11.

At the time of appointment, Marino, 66, also held the posts of apostolic nuncio (Vatican envoy) to Timor-Leste as well as apostolic delegate to Brunei Darussalam.

He succeeds Archbishop Giampier Gloder, whom Pope Francis has appointed as Vatican ambassador to Cuba.

Marino comes to his new post with considerable diplomatic experience in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, including 11years of service in three Muslim-majority states and seven years working in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.

He joined the Holy See’s diplomatic service in 1988 and, subsequently, served in its embassies in the Philippines (1988-91), Uruguay (1991-94), Nigeria (1994-97) and the United Kingdom (2004-2008).

At the Secretariat of State, he served as desk officer in the section for relations with states and was responsible for the Holy See’s diplomatic relations with Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Herzegovina, Albania and Moldova.

In 2008, Pope Benedict appointed him as Vatican ambassador to Bangladesh. Five years later, in 2013, Pope Benedict appointed him as the first Vatican ambassador to Malaysia.

During his stint in Malaysia, Archbishop Marino was elected Dean of the Diplomatic Corps of Malaysia.

He saw to the building of a new Nunciature, (Vatican Embassy) the Holy See’s first environmentally friendly building.

He was also responsible for obtaining the title of minor basilica which was granted by the Holy See to the Church of St Anne in Penang.

Archbishop Marino was also responsible for getting the Catholic Church in Malaysia its first cardinal in Anthony Soter Fernandez, the second archbishop of Kuala Lumpur. 

Most recently, he brought a message from Pope Francis to the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, thanking him for commuting the death sentences of three Mexican brothers for drug trafficking crimes.

Marino had earlier conveyed the Pope’s request for clemency to the sultan.

Marino said he felt at home and would miss Malaysia with its good people as he goes to take up his new posting.

“I enjoyed staying and working in this beautiful Malaysia, where a lot of developments took place, including the appointments of four archbishops, Archbishop Simon Poh of Kuching, Bishop Richard Ng of Miri, Bishop Benard Paul of Melaka-Johor and Archbishop Julian Leow of Kuala Lumpur.”

Bishop Sebastian Francis, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei (CBCMSB) thanked the outgoing nuncio and wished him well as he goes to serve in Rome.

“On behalf of CBCMSB, prayerful wishes, blessings and felicitations. We too are honoured. May the Holy Spirit lead and guide your new mission,” said Sebastian.

Archbishop Poh congratulated Archbishop Marino on his new appointment.

“Thank you for your service to Malaysia, especially with the gift of the first Cardinal for the Malaysian Church and many new bishops that have been appointed through your office, and in the interfaith, ecumenical dialogues and sessions that are part of the Malaysian scene. “My personal thanks to you for the support and encouragement.”

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, United States, in 1953, Marino earned degrees in philosophy and psychology from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania and in theology and biblical theology from Gregorian University in Rome while residing at the North American College (1975-80).

After serving in a parish in Birmingham from 1980 to 1984, he entered the Holy See’s academy for diplomats in Rome and gained a doctorate in canon law from the Gregorian University.

Besides English, he is fluent in Italian and Spanish, and knows French.