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Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Vatican City, 15 October 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Apostolic Palace, the Pope visited the staff of the Secretariat of State on the occasion of the end of the mandate of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. as secretary of State, a role in which he will be succeeded by Archbishop Pietro Parolin, formerly apostolic nuncio to Venezuela. Archbishop Parolin will assume his role within a few weeks as he has had to undergo an operation that prevented him from being present today.

At this moment”, the Pope said, “I wish to share with you all my feelings of gratitude”. Addressing Cardinal Bertone, he continued, “I see in you, above all, the son of Don Bosco. We are all marked by our history. Thinking of your long service to the Church, both in teaching and in the ministry of diocesan bishop and in your work in the Curia, up to your role as secretary of State, it seems to me that the uniting thread is made precisely of the priestly vocation … which has led you to fulfil all your duties … with deep love for the Church, great generosity, and with that typically Salesian mix that unites a sincere spirit of of obedience with a great freedom of initiative and personal inventiveness”.

The pontiff underlined another aspect of Cardinal Bertone's service, “the attitude of unconditional faithfulness and absolute loyalty to Peter, a distinctive characteristic of your mandate as Secretary of State, both in relation to Benedict XVI and to me during these months. I have been aware of this on many occasions and am profoundly grateful to you”.

Finally, I would like to thank you also for the courage and patience with which you have faced adversities – and there have been many”, added Pope Francis, citing the example of Don Bosco's dream in which he and his young followers pass along a path covered with a trellis of roses. From the outside one sees only the roses but gradually, as they walk, they begin to encounter sharp thorns and are tempted to leave, but the Virgin Mary exhorts them to persevere and they eventually find themselves in a beautiful garden. “The dream would represent the strife of the educator, but I think it can be applied also to any ministry of responsibility within the Church. Dear Cardinal Bertone, in this moment I like to think that, even though there have been thorns, Mary Help of Christians has certainly not failed to lend a hand, and will not fail to do so in the future. We all hope that you may continue to enjoy the treasures that have characterised your vocation: the presence of Jesus-Eucharist, the help of Our Lady, and the friendship of the Pope. Don Bosco's three great loves: these three.

And with these thoughts, we extend, in absentia, the most cordial welcome to the new secretary. He well knows the family of the secretariat of State, having worked there for many years with passion and competence and with his characteristic capacity for dialogue and negotiation. In a certain sense it will be like a homecoming”.

The Pope concluded by asking the staff of the secretariat of State to pray for him, and Cardinal Bertone then gave a short address recalling his seven years of service to the Holy See, first with Pope Benedict XVI, whose pontificate was characterised by “seeing the Church understand herself in depth as communion, and at the same time able to speak to the world, to the heart and the intelligence of everyone, with doctrinal clarity and high thought”. For Cardinal Bertone, Benedict XVI was “a reformer of consciences and of the clergy. His pontificate was distinguished by strong pastoral projects. … He suffered greatly on account of the ills that plagued the Church and for this reason he gave her new legislation in order to strike out decisively the shameful phenomenon of paedophilia among the clergy, without forgetting the initiation of new rules in economic and administrative matters”.

Today I see in Pope Francis not so much a revolution but rather continuity from Pope Benedict XVI, although with differences in terms of accents and aspects of personal life. … Listening, tenderness, mercy, and confidence are outstanding features I have experienced with you. … And I cannot finish without underlining two expressions that reinforce this continuity: the gift of spontaneous and inspired counsel, and the common and fervent Marian devotion. There is no better image of the two Popes than that which juxtaposes the photographs of each one gathered in prayer before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima; Pope Benedict in Fatima, in the Year for Priests, 2010, and Pope Francis before the same image in Rome, in the Year of Faith, to place the entire Church in a state of penance and purification”.

The cardinal concluded by expressing his wish that the new secretary of State will be able “to untangle the knots that still prevent the Church from being in Christ the heart of the world, the longed-for and incessantly invoked horizon”.


Vatican City, 15 October 2013 (VIS) – We publish below the Holy Father's letter, dated 15 October, to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, who today ends his mandate as secretary of State.

It is time for you, dear brother, to 'pass the baton' in the service of secretary of State. I therefore wish to join with you spiritually in giving thanks to God for the good that he has allowed you to achieve in this, such a delicate and challenging role. The memory of St. Theresa of Jesus, whom we celebrate on this date, invites you to turn your gaze to God: “Let nothing disturb you”, says the great saint of Avila, “let nothing frighten you; whoever has God lacks nothing”.

On this occasion I feel the need to express my deep gratitude for the diligence which you have brought to your work over these seven years; and I do so also on behalf of the beloved Pope Benedict XVI, who called you from Genoa, where you were archbishop, to return to Rome and entrusted to you the role of secretary of State from 15 September 2006, and therefore also that of Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church. Seven years of hard work, lived with great generosity and in the spirit of service. I too have benefited to this day from your expert collaboration.

There is an aspect for which I wish to express to you my appreciation in a particular way, and it is your faithfulness to the spirit of Don Bosco, the Salesian spirit, that you have been able to conserve and bear witness to in spite of being absorbed in the many commitments connected to the task of assisting Peter's Successor. With the enterprise and love for the Pope characteristic of the sons of St. John Bosco, you have always carried out with dedication your task of guiding the international relations of the Holy See, so important in the exercise of the ministry of the Bishop of Rome. At the same time, you have spared no efforts in taking the Papal Magisterium and the Apostolic blessing everywhere: to all countries, dioceses, parishes, universities, institutions, associations. Our Lady, Help of Christians has been close to you and has always assisted you in your valuable ministry. May her maternal intercession ensure for you the heavenly rewards and graces dearest to your heart. May there be a pledge of peace and spiritual joy in the blessing I impart to you, and which I extend with heartfelt gratitude also to your colleagues and loved ones”.


Vatican City, 15 October 2013 (VIS) – The Holy Father has written a letter to Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, on the elevation to the dignity of bishop of Fr. Fernando Vergez Alzaga L.C., secretary general of the same body.

In the text, the Pope explains that “from the specific nature of the Apostolic See, which has a spiritual and pastoral mission in favour of the Church of Rome and the Universal Church, derives the special responsibility of those who are linked to it by bonds of employment, and the commitment to scrupulous fidelity in all the tasks and duties assigned to them in terms of industriousness, professionalism and honesty”.

Therefore, it is the responsibility of the secretary general of the Governorate “to undertake directly the human and Christian formation of employees and collaborators, to co-ordinate the priests charged with the task of spiritual assistance, who are already present in the various sectors, and to promote appropriate initiatives, especially in conjunction with the pastoral programmes of the universal Church and in the 'Tempi Forti' of the liturgical year”.

Considering these tasks, I have decided to elevate Fr. Fernando Vergez Alzaga L.C. to the dignity of bishop”, concluded the Holy Father.


Vatican City, 15 October 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father:

- elevated Fr. Fernando Vergez Alzaga, L.C., secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State, to the dignity of bishop. The bishop-elect was born in Salamanca, Spain in 1945 and was ordained a priest in 1969. He holds a licentiate in philosophy and theology from the Gregorian Pontifical University and the diploma of the School of Archivistry of the Vatican Secret Archives. He has served in the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life and the Congregation for the Laity, and in 2004 he was nominated bureau chief of the Holy See Internet Office. In 2008 he was nominated director of the Department of Telecommunications of Vatican City State.

- appointed Archbishop Giovanni Ricchiuti as bishop of Altamura-Gravina-Acquaviva delle Fonti (area 1,309, population 170,500, Catholics 168,500, priests 91, permanent deacons 11, religious 184), Italy. Bishop Ricchiuti, previously archbishop of Acerenza, was born in Bisceglie, Italy in 1948, was ordained to the priesthood in 1972, and received episcopal ordination in 2005. He succeeds Bishop Mario Paciello, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon having reached the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Rev. Mark Hagemoen, of the clergy of Vancouver, as bishop of MacKenzie-Fort Smith (area 1,523,400, population 49,150, Catholics 27,050, priests 8, permanent deacons 1, religious 11), Canada. The bishop-elect was born in Vancouver, Canada in 1961 and was ordained a priest in 1990. He obtained the title “Doctor in Ministry” from Trinity Western University, Vancouver and has served in a number of pastoral roles, including parish vicar of St. Stephen, Vancouver; parish vicar of “St. Mary”, Chilliwack; director of youth pastoral for the archdiocese; parish priest of “St. Nicholas”, at Langley; vicar general of the archdiocese; episcopal vicar for diocesan pastoral services; parish priest of “St. John the Apostle”, Vancouver, and director of the Catholic Colleges of “Corpus Christi” and “St. Mark's”, in Vancouver. He is a member of the council of the Center for Ministry Development, of the College of Consultors and of the council of the Catholic Little Flower Academy High School for Girls, in Vancouver.

- appointed Bishop Sebastien Muyengo Mulombe as bishop of Uvira (area 36,000, population 1,370,000, Catholics 483,321, priests 60, religious 51), Democratic Republic of Congo. Bishop Muyengo Mulombe was previously auxiliary of Kinshasa.

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