High-ranking American in Vatican 'humbled' by appointment as nuncio

Msgr Peter Bryan Wells CNA Msgr. Peter Bryan Wells.

On Tuesday it was announced that Pope Francis has appointed Msgr. Peter Bryan Wells, the highest ranking American in the Vatican Secretariat of State, as his new ambassador to South Africa and Botswana.

"I am extremely humbled and honored by the faith which has been placed in me by the Church and our Holy Father, especially in this Year of Mercy," Msgr. Wells said about his nomination.

He asked for prayers as he prepares to embark on his new mission "to the extraordinary people of southern Africa."

The Vatican announced Wells' appointment as nuncio in a Feb. 9 communique, which noted that the Pope has also elevated him to the rank of archbishop.

Since July 16, 2009, Msgr. Wells, 52, has served as the Assessor for the General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, which handles the majority of Church affairs aside from relations with other states.

His role as assessor made Msgr. Wells the fifth ranking official in the Vatican's Secretary of State, which he carried out first under Archbishop Fernando Filoni – now a cardinal – and Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, the current 'Substitute' to the Secretariat of State.

Born in Tulsa, Okla., May 12, 1963, Msgr. Wells studied at St. Meinrad Seminary College in Indiana obtaining a degree in Letters, before being sent to the Pontifical North American College in Rome to study theology.

While in Rome, he obtained a baccalaureate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1990, and later, in 1992, a licentiate from the John Paul II Institute for studies on Marriage and the Family at the Pontifical Lateran University.

After his ordination to the priesthood July 12, 1991, Msgr. Wells served in various roles in his home diocese of Tulsa, including parochial vicar at Holy Family cathedral, private secretary to the bishop and vicar for Religious Education in the diocese.

He began his diplomatic work with the Holy See July 1, 1999, after obtaining a licentiate and doctoral degree in Canon Law from the Pontifical Gregorian University, in 1998 and 1999, respectively.

The priest's first diplomatic assignment was to the nunciature in Nigeria, where he served until 2002 when he was summoned back to Rome to work in the Vatican.

Under his new role, Msgr. Wells will now move to Pretoria, where the nunciature of South Africa is located, while serving at the same time as nuncio to Botswana. In addition to his native English, Wells is also fluent in Italian, French, German and Spanish.

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