Since 1706, the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the Roman institution whose mission is to form the diplomatic corps of the Holy See, has been installed in the Severoli Palace, Piazza della Minerva.
During his closing speech to Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region, on October 26, 2019, Pope Francis declared: “It would be good for priests preparing for the Holy See diplomatic service to dedicate one year of their formation to missionary commitment in a diocese.” A few months later, on February 11, 2020, the president of the Academy, Bishop Joseph Marino, was officially charged with implementing this decision in the form of a vow.
In the mind of the Sovereign Pontiff, sending future nuncios into the field would be “an experience that will be helpful to all young men preparing for or beginning their priestly service, but in a particular way, to those who in the future will be called to collaborate with the Pontifical representatives and who may subsequently become Holy See envoys to nations and particular Churches.”
So far, nuncio apprentices—who must be under 35, have a canonical license and master at least two foreign languages—spend two years at Piazza della Minerva. Their training is completed by a third year internship in a nunciature.
The Pope’s decision amounts to adding a fourth year to this course, during which students will be able to discover the joys of the mission, “by getting their hands dirty in pastoral work, in the Churches on the periphery,” explains the Argentinian Pope, using one of his usual phrases.