Pope rotates in new personal secretary

Pope rotates in new personal secretary

Pope Francis walks with Msgr. Yoannis Lahzi Gaid and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of United Arab Emirates, upon his arrival at Abu Dhabi Presidential Flight airport in United Arab Emirates in 2019. Lahzi Gaid has completed his service as personal secretary to Pope Francis, but will continue as a member of the interreligious committee working to fulfill the goals of the "Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together." (Credit: Paul Haring/CNS.)

While recent popes have kept the same personal secretary throughout their pontificates, Pope Francis has chosen to rotate the priests serving in that capacity.

ROME — While recent popes have kept the same personal secretary throughout their pontificates, Pope Francis has chosen to rotate the priests serving in that capacity.

The Vatican press office confirmed Aug. 1 that “in the context of the normal rotation of personnel desired by Pope Francis for his collaborators in the Roman Curia, Msgr. Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, personal secretary of the Holy Father since April 2014, has concluded his service.”

The 45-year-old Coptic Catholic priest will continue, however, to serve on the board of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, an interreligious body promoting the principles of dialogue and cooperation contained in a document signed in 2019 by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar.

Father Lahzi Gaid had been working in the Vatican Secretariat of State when Pope Francis chose him as the second of his two personal secretaries. The priest also served as Arabic translator for the pope and usually reads a summary of the pope’s general audience addresses in Arabic each Wednesday.

Pope Francis has chosen Italian Father Fabio Salerno, also an official in the Secretariat of State, to succeed the Egypt-born priest.

Born in Catanzaro April 25, 1979, he was ordained to the priesthood in 2011. After earning a doctorate in civil and canon law from Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University, Salerno entered the Vatican diplomatic corps. He served at the nunciature in Indonesia and at the Holy See’s mission to the Council of Europe before transferring to the Vatican.

Salerno will work with Father Gonzalo Aemilius, a priest from Uruguay, whom the pope chose as a secretary in January.

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