Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, Prefect of the Dicastery of the Oriental Churches

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Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti to head the Dicastery for Eastern Churches. The change in leadership comes after fifteen years with Cardinal Leonardo Sandri as prefect who recently turned 79. Pope Benedict XVI entrusted Cardinal Sandri with the post of prefect in June 2007, reconfirmed by Pope Francis in 2014. The Cardinal will finish his service as prefect in mid-January when the 67-year-old Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti will take over the job.

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Pope Francis has chosen Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, his nuncio to Great Britain, to be the new prefect of the Dicastery for Eastern Churches, a Vatican office where he had served as undersecretary until 2001.

Archbishop Gugerotti, a 67-year-old native of Verona, Italy, will succeed Argentine Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, who celebrated his 79th birthday Nov. 19 and has been prefect since 2007.

The Dicastery for Eastern Churches assists all the Eastern Catholic churches — most of which are based in the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine — as well as the Latin-rite church across North Africa and the Middle East.

In addition to having taught at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome and serving on the staff of the former Congregation for Eastern Churches, Archbishop Gugerotti has lived with and worked closely with Eastern Catholics and Orthodox leaders and faithful while nuncio to Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan from 2002 to 2011, nuncio to Belarus from 2011 to 2015, nuncio to Ukraine from 2015 to 2020 and nuncio to Great Britain for the past two years.

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For the role of prefect of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches, Pope Francis has chosen Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, who since 2020 was nuncio to the United Kingdom.

The Italian prelate’s diplomatic career came about somewhat “by accident.”

As a specialist in Eastern liturgy and a fluent Russian and Armenian speaker, Gugerotti arrived in Rome to serve in the Congregation of Oriental Churches, where he had served as undersecretary before starting his career as “ambassador of the pope.”

His recent appointment came as a bit of a surprise, given Vatican rumors were convinced that Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, 79 years old and head of the dicastery since 2007, would remain the prefect until he was 80. 

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