Coptic priest joins Francis’ personal secretariat
(Translation of this article appears in Arabic section)
After Mgr. Xuereb’s promotion to Secretary for the Economy, Francis has now chosen Secretary of State official Yoannis Lahzi Gaid to replace him
Pope Francis has chosen a second personal secretary who will work alongside Argentinean priest Fr. Fabián Pedacchio, after Alfred Xuereb was promoted as the Vatican “finance ministry’s” number two man. The man chosen for the job is Coptic Catholic priest, Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, who is currently working in the first section of the Vatican Secretariat of State. Lahzi Gaid is also one of the “translators” who reads out the Gospel and summarises the Pope’s General Audience catecheses in Arabic.
Francis’ new secretary has been living in the St. Martha’s House residence for a while now and knows Italy well: He was assistant parish priest of Latina (central Italy); in 2007 he edited a volume of texts from the Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches; he was the Vatican’s diplomatic representative in Congo and Gabon and was then made charge d’affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature of Jordan and Iraq before returning to the Vatican. He was previously also editor of the website of the Church in Alexandria, Egypt. In 2011, following the bloody attacks against the Coptic ortodox churches, he wrote, of his own initiative, an open letter to the Imam of Al Azhar University.
For the moment, Lahzi Gaid will continue his daily duties in the Secretariat of State, alongside his new role, as Mgr. Pedacchio – who also works for the Congregation for Bishops – does. As is known, for Francis, the ideal personal secretary acts as an invisible figure. He never follows the Pope and almost never accompanies him in public but most importantly, he does not manage the Pope’s agenda for him, deciding who he does and doesn’t meet.
The fact that the Bishop of Rome has chosen an Arabic-speaking priest who belongs to an Eastern Catholic rite as one of his closest collaborators for the first time in modern history, is a fact of great significance and a sign of his support for the Eastern communities, many of which face difficult situations. It also shows his commitment to dialogue with the Arab and Muslim world.