MANILA (UPDATE) - Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Charles John Brown as the new apostolic nuncio to the Philippines.
The Vatican made the announcement on Monday.
Brown replaces Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, who left in December 2019 when the pope appointed him as the new permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.
Brown was born in New York. In 1989, he was ordained as priest for the Archdiocese of New York.
Prior to his appointment as apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, the prelate served as papal ambassador to Albania since March 2017. He also served as the pontiff's representative in Ireland for five years from 2011.
It was Pope Benedict XVI in January 2012 who ordained Brown to the episcopate as the titular archbishop of Aquileia.
Before becoming archbishop, Brown also served as adjunct secretary of the International Theological Commission.
There is no word yet from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines on Brown's arrival in the country.
Aside from acting as the pope's ambassador, the apostolic nuncio also plays a huge role in the appointment of bishops in the country where he is serving.
Due to this role, perhaps one of the biggest tasks that will greet Brown is the selection of the new archbishop of Manila after the departure of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who is now the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
The apostolic nuncio is part of the long process of the selection of the new bishops and archbishops along with the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops before it is ultimately decided by the pope.
Traditionally, the papal nuncio in the Philippines also sits as the dean of the diplomatic corps.
Around 80 percent of the country's population are Roman Catholics. Next year, the Philippines will mark the 500th anniversary of the introduction of Christianity in the country.
Brown is set to take up the post amid increasing tension between the Catholic Church in the Philippines and the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
High-ranking prelates continue to criticize some of Duterte's policy, mainly his bloody war against illegal drugs, which saw the killing of thousands of suspected drug users and traffickers. The president retaliated, calling the Catholic Church as the "most hypocritical institution" while attacking prelates with accusations like corruption and meddling with politics.