The papal envoy to Ivory Coast, Indian Archbishop Ambrose Madtha, was killed in a traffic accident in the west of the country at the weekend.
Madtha was travelling back from the northwestern town of Odienne to an ordination ceremony when his car was in a collision with another vehicle.
"Unfortunately the apostolic nuncio died on the spot," said Mathieu Tehan, spokesman for the diocese of Man where the ceremony was to take place.
President Alassane Ouattara expressed his "deep regret" at the death and sent condolences to the church and Madtha's family.
Madtha, born in 1995 in the southwestern Indian state of Karnataka, became the doyen of the Ivorian diplomatic corps after arriving in 2008.
He tried to play a behind-the-scenes mediating role during Ivory Coast's 2010-11 political crisis when the previous ruler, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to step down, even though Ouattara was declared the winner of presidential elections.
The Catholic Church was put in a delicate position since some of the country's bishops favoured Gbagbo, who comes from the country's majority Christian south. Ouattara is from the largely Muslim north.
Last month Ouattara, accompanied by his Christian wife, met Pope Benedict in Rome.
Gbagbo is awaiting trial for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.