A SCARIFF native has been appointed by the Pope as the apostolic nuncio to the Middle Eastern states of Kuwait and Qatar.
In recent days, Pope Francis conferred the role on Archbishop Eugene M Nugent who is originally from Scariff. The 62-year-old was previously the nuncio in Haiti where he worked for the last six years. He will transfer to Kuwait in the middle of February.
A graduate in Celtic Studies from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Archbishop Nugent subsequently studied theology and canon law at the Gregorian University in Rome. He also studied diplomacy and international relations at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome. He was ordained a priest in Scariff on July 9, 1983 for the Diocese of Killaloe.
Having entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1992 at the age of 33, he worked as secretary in the nunciatures in Turkey, Israel and Palestine and subsequently at the Holy See Study Mission in Hong Kong form 2000 until 2010. In 2010, he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as Apostolic Nuncio and Titular Archbishop of Domnach Sechnaill (Dunshaughlin). From 2010 until 2015, he was Apostolic Nuncio in Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles, as well as being Apostolic Delegate to the Comoros Islands and the island of La Réunion in the Indian Ocean.
In January 2015, Archbishop Nugent was appointed Apostolic Nuncio in Haiti, where he worked on the reconstruction of churches following the devastating earthquake of 2010. In 2019 and 2020 the Apostolic Nunciature in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, hosted a series of meetings under the auspices of the UN Mission in Haiti (BINUH) and the Organisation of American States (OAS). The nunciature collaborated with a view to facilitating a political dialogue to end the long-running crisis in the Caribbean nation. The dialogue is still ongoing with elections scheduled for later on this year.
Archbishop Nugent takes up his new role at a time of significant challenges for Catholicism in the Middle East. Although Christianity arrived in the Arab peninsula before Islam, the Catholic church there is a migrant and pilgrim one, composed almost exclusively of expatriates. From the early 1990s, the church has developed rapidly under the pastoral care of the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia. However, restrictions on the number of priests, the small number of churches and the limited space available in churches are significant pastoral concerns.