Pope Francis has appointed a new ambassador to Israel, the Vatican said in a statement Wednesday.
Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli will replace Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, who has served as the Holy See’s Apostolic Nuncio in Israel over the past five years.
In addition to Apostolic Nuncio, the Vatican’s term for ambassador, Lazzarotto was also appointed as apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine.
Apostolic delegates serve as liaisons to the Holy See, but unlike nuncios do not have an official diplomatic status.
Israel and the Vatican established diplomatic ties in 1994, upon which the position of apostolic nuncio to Israel was created. Since then, the Holy See’s top diplomat in Israel has also served as the apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine.
Prior to his appointment Wednesday, Girelli was the apostolic nuncio to Singapore and the Catholic Church’s non-resident representative in Singapore.
He has served in the Vatican’s diplomatic corps since 1987.