Mgr Alfred Xuereb appointed as secretary to Pope Francis
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Mgr Alfred Xuereb has been asked to serve as the personal secretary to Pope Francis, the ANSA News Agency has reported the appointment of the 54-year old Gozitan, however, the news is yet to be confirmed by Vatican officials.
The report said that Pope Francis met with Mgr. Xuereb recently, which was when the position was discussed.
In addition to running the Pope’s private office, the Pope’s personal secretaries live in the Papal household, concelebrate Mass with the Pope each morning and also dine with him.
Mgr. Xuereb served for five year as Pope Benedict XVI’s second personal secretary. He succeeded Mgr Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, popularly known as “Don Mietek,” who served as assistant personal secretary to Pope John Paul II from 1996 until his death, and then to Pope Benedict.
Mgr. Xuereb is currently at Castel Gandolfo with the Pope Emeritus.
Mgr Xuereb was born on October the 14th 1958, and became a priest on May the 26th 1984. He celebrated his first Solemn High Mass at St George’s basilica in the context of the July festivities in honour of St George.
On Tuesday morning the inaugural Mass will take place of Pope Francis. Today, the Vatican Information Service said that Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Press Office of the Holy See, focused on two themes: Pope Francis’ first audiences and details of the Mass inaugurating the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome.
First, Fr. Lombardi relayed the information that the Holy Father was, at the moment, having lunch with the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, whom he received at the Domus Sanctae Marthae “in a private meeting that lasted around 20 minutes, afterwards greeting the other members of the Argentine delegation”. Also this morning, at 10:00am, Francis received in audience Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B. Yesterday afternoon he had two very cordial audiences, one with the Bishop of Albano, Italy, and the other with the Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon.
Details were given by Fr. Federico Lombardi, on how the Mass inaugurating the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome will be celebrated. “The correct term for the ceremony,” Fr. Lombardi clarified, “is not enthronement but inauguration. As successor of Peter, the Pope is Bishop of Rome and the Church of Rome ‘presides in love’ over the others. Also, it is a celebration rich with symbols that recall the Pope’s tie to St. Peter, beginning with the place where, according to tradition, Peter was martyred.”
The Press Office Director also explained where those participating in and attending the Mass will be located. “On the left-hand side of the ‘Sagrato’ (porch of the Basilica) will be seated bishops and archbishops (around 250 are expected), ecclesiastics, and delegations from other Churches and Christian confessions. On the right-hand side of the ‘Sagrato’ will be delegations from various countries lead by heads of state, ministers, etc. On the St. Peter’s statue side of the piazza will be seated Jews, Muslims, and members of other religions, then around 1200 priests and seminarians. On the St. Paul’s statue side of the piazza will be seated the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See and other civil authorities. The rest of the piazza will be standing-room for all those without tickets. A large number is expected to attend.”
Between 8:45 and 8:50am the Pope will depart the Domus Sanctae Marthae and start to move through the crowd in the various sections of the piazza-either in the Jeep or the Popemobile-and greet those gathered. He will return to the Sacristy, via the Pietà side, around 9:15am. Mass is planned to begin at 9:30am.
Regarding the beginning of the ceremony, the Pope, once having entered the Basilica, will head to the Confession (St. Peter’s tomb under the high altar) while trumpets will announce the “Tu es Petrus”. The Pope will venerate the tomb of St. Peter, together with the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches (ten in number, four of whom are cardinals). He will then be presented with the Pallium, Ring, and Book of the Gospels that were placed at St. Peter’s tomb the night before.
The Holy Father will then come back up from the Confession to the main floor of the Basilica, from which the procession continues. The “Laudes Regiae” (Christ is King) will be chanted, with some invocations taken from the Vatican II document on the Church, “Lumen Gentium”. In the Litany of Saints are particularly to be noted, after the Apostles, the Holy Roman Pontiffs who have been canonized up to the most recent: St. Pius X. Fr. Lombardi clarified that these are only the pontiffs who have been named as saints, not those who have been beatified.
The procession will then make its entrance into the square.
Fr. Lombardi listed who will be concelebrating the Mass with Francis: all the cardinals present in Rome, joined by the Patriarchs and Major Eastern Rite Archbishops (6); the Secretary of the College of Cardinals; and two Superior Generals (that of the Order of Friars Minor, Jose Rodriguez Carballo and that of the Jesuits, Adolfo Nicolas Pachon, respectively President and Vice-President of the Union of Superior Generals). In total about 180 are expected to concelebrate and they will be seated at the left (that is, in front of the ecclesiastics, not the national delegations).
Before the Mass begins there are the rites specific to the beginning of the Bishop of Rome’s Petrine Ministry. These include:
The Imposition of the Pallium:
Made of lamb’s wool and sheep’s wool, the Pallium is placed on the Pope’s shoulders recalling the Good Shepherd who carries the lost sheep on his shoulders. The Pope’s Pallium has five red crosses while the Metropolitans’ Palliums have five black crosses. The one used by Francis is the same one that Benedict XVI used. It is placed on the Pope’s shoulders by Cardinal proto-deacon Tauran and, after the imposition, there is a prayer recited by Cardinal proto-presbyter Daneels.
The Fisherman’s Ring:
Peter is the fisherman Apostle, called to be a “fisher of men”. The ring is presented to the Pope by Cardinal Deacon Sodano (first of the Order of Bishops). It bears the image of St. Peter with the keys. It was designed by Enrico Manfrini The ring was in the possession of Archbishop Macchi, Pope Paul VI’s personal secretary, and then Msgr. Malnati, who proposed it to Pope Francis through Cardinal Re. It is made of silver and gold.
Six cardinals, two from each order, among the first of those present approach the Pope to make an act of obedience. Note that all the Cardinal electors already made an act of obedience in the Sistine Chapel at the end of the Conclave and that all the cardinals were able to meet the Pope in the following day’s audience in the Clementine Hall. Also, at the moment of “taking possession” of the Cathedral of Rome-St. John Lateran-it is expected that the act of obedience will be made by representatives of the various members of the People of God.
The Mass will be that of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, which has its own readings (therefore they are not directly related to the rite of the Inauguration of the Pontificate). The Gospel will be proclaimed in Greek, as at the highest solemnities, to show that the universal Church is made up of the great traditions of the East and the West. “Latin,” Fr. Lombardi said, “is already abundantly present in the other prayers and Mass parts.”
The Pope will give his homily in Italian and, as is his style, it probably will not follow the written text strictly, but will contain improvisations.
Fr. Lombardi said that the Master of Celebrations expects that the ceremony will not last much more than two hours and, always with the intention of simplification and not making the rite overly long, there will not be an Offertory procession. The Eucharistic gifts will be brought to the altar by the ministers who prepare the altar. Also, the Pope will not distribute Communion, which will be done by the deacons on the “Sagrato” and, in the various areas of the piazza, by priests.
Regarding the music for the ceremony, several moments are notable. When the Pope enters the Basilica silver trumpets will ring out the “Tu es Petrus”. The Laudes Regiae will be chanted during the procession from St. Peter’s tomb to the “Sagrato”. A 14 piece brass ensemble will play at various moments of the celebration. During the Offertory the “Tu es pastor ovium” (You Are the Shepherd of the Sheep) motet composed by Pierluigi da Palestrina precisely for the Inauguration of the Pontificate will be sung. At the conclusion, the “Te Deum” will be sung with verses alternating between Gregorian chant and a melody by Tomas Luis de Victoria. As it will not be held on a Sunday, there will be no Angelus after the Mass.
At the end of the celebration, and after removing the Liturgical vestments, the Pope will go to the Basilica’s high altar, before which he will greet the heads of the official delegations from various countries who will pass before him. He will then go to the Domus Sanctae Marthae for lunch.
Other delegations staying in Rome can meet with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., secretary of State of His Holiness, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States the following day, Wednesday (for example, the President of Brazil in light of the upcoming World Youth Day). As is known, the Pope will receive delegations of the Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of other religions in audience on Wednesday. At the present moment, the main delegations that are expected to attend are:
- 33 delegations representing Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities (14 Oriental; 10 Western; 3 Christian organizations; others). Among these will be present: Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I; Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians Karekin II; Metropolitan Hilarion of the Patriarchate of Moscow; many metropolitans; Anglican Archbishop Sentamu; Secretary of the World Council of Churches Fykse Tveit; etc.
- 16 members of important Jewish delegations including: the Jewish community of Rome; international Jewish committees; the Chief Rabbinate of Israel; the World Jewish Congress; the Anti-Defamation League, etc.
- As well as delegations of Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jainists, etc.
To date, delegations of various sizes and levels from 132 countries have confirmed their attendance.
“The delegations,” Fr. Lombardi emphasized, “are coming to Rome following information of the event made public by the Secretary of State. There were no ‘invitations’ sent out. All who wish to come are warmly welcomed. It must be made clear that no one has privileged status or will be refused. The order will depend on protocol and the level of the delegation.”
Naturally, the most important delegations will be those from Argentina, led by President Cristina Kirchner and Italy, led by President Napolitano and Prime Minister Monti with presidents of the Italian Senate, House, and Constitutional Court.
Also expected are six reigning sovereigns (Belgium, Monaco…); 31 heads of state (Austria, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Canada, Poland, Portugal, European Union…); three crown princes (Spain, Holland, Bahrain); 11 heads of government (Germany, France, the Vice President of the United States, …); and delegations led by: first ladies, vice presidents, vice prime ministers, parliament presidents, ministers, ambassadors, and other dignitaries.
Papal Coat of Arms:
The last topic that Fr. Lombardi covered was the now pontiff’s papal coat of arms and motto. These are the same that he used as bishop. The shield has a bright blue background, at the centre top of which is a yellow radiant sun with the IHS christogram on it representing Jesus (it is also the Jesuit logo). The IHS monogram, as well as a cross that pierces the H, are in red with three black nails directly under them. Under that, to the left, is a star representing Mary, Mother of Christ and the Church. To the right of the star is a nard flower representing Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church. With these symbols the Pope demonstrates his love for the Holy Family.
What distinguishes his coat of arms as pontiff is that, instead of the wide-brimmed, red cardinal’s hat atop the shield, it is now crowned by the papal tiara and crossed keys.
His motto-”miserando atque eligendo” (because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him)-is taken from the Venerable Bede’s homily on the Gospel account of the call of Matthew. It holds special meaning for the Pope because-when he was only 17-years-old, after going to confession on the Feast of St. Matthew in 1953-he perceived God’s mercy in his life and felt the call to the priesthood, following the example of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Photograph shows Pope Benedict XVI with Mgr Alfred Xuereb.