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 CNS Story:

STATE-MAMBERTI Sep-15-2006 (380 words) xxxi

Pope names foreign minister at ceremony for new secretary of state

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI appointed French Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, a 20-year veteran of the Vatican diplomatic corps, as the Vatican's foreign affairs minister.

The pope made the surprise announcement at the end of a ceremony Sept. 15 to welcome the new secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and bid farewell to his predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

Archbishop Mamberti, 54, has been the apostolic nuncio in Sudan since 2002 and also in Eritrea since 2004. Since 1986 when he entered the Vatican diplomatic service, he has held posts in Algeria, Chile, the United Nations in New York and Lebanon, and has worked in the Secretariat of State's section for foreign affairs.

Born in Morocco, he is said to be knowledgeable about the Muslim world, and speaks French, Italian, English and Spanish. He was ordained in 1981 and has degrees in civil and canon law.

Archbishop Mamberti's formal title is secretary for relations with states, head of the foreign policy section of the secretary of state's office. He replaces Italian Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, who was made president of the commission governing Vatican City State, a position formerly held by U.S. Cardinal Edmund C. Szoka.

The ceremony at the pope's summer residence in Castel Gandolfo marked the changing of the guard in two of the top three positions at the Secretariat of State, 17 months after Pope Benedict was elected.

The pope thanked Cardinal Sodano for his 16 years at the helm of the Vatican's biggest office, citing the cardinal's "good sense, prudent wisdom and indefatigable zeal," and the love and generosity he showed in service to the church.

In a touching moment, the pope then spoke off-the-cuff about the great skill and the great sense of dedication shown by Cardinal Sodano and his staff, saying he understood more every day the importance of this "great network of collaboration."

Then, as a sign of his esteem and as a spiritual bond, the pope gave the cardinal a replica of the "Black Madonna" of Altotting, the German sanctuary that the pope had visited a few days before.

In separate speeches, Cardinal Bertone and Cardinal Sodano both underlined that while the Roman Curia is important, it is the pope who guides it.

To date, Pope Benedict has named three new heads of the Roman Curia's top 21 departments.

END


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