Rome: The Former Pastor Who Became a Vicar

Source: FSSPX News

Bishop Angelo De Donatis with Pope Francis.

The Holy Father has appointed his new Vicar for the Diocese of Rome in the person of Archbishop Angelo de Donatis. He is to replace 77-year-old Cardinal Vallini.

An important page turns for the capital of the Catholic universe: Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Cardinal Vicar  of Rome, is leaving after nine years at the service of the Eternal City. His resignation on account of old age was accepted by the Sovereign Pontiff.

While the pope is the Bishop of Rome – and has primacy over the universal Church – it is really the Cardinal Vicar who, by delegation, governs the immense Roman diocese that includes over 330 parishes, not to mention the hundreds of religious communities and other health and educational institutions.

The Cardinal Vicar is also an archpriest of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the pope’s cathedral. Unlike the other Vicars General, his functions do not come to an end when the apostolic see is vacant.

Since 1929 and the Lateran Treaty, the jurisdiction of the Cardinal Vicar only includes the Italian part of the Diocese of Rome, and another Vicar General, who is also archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, is in charge of Vatican City State.

The Holy Father has chosen Cardinal Vallini’s successor: Archbishop Angelo de Donatis, a 63 year-old prelate, but he is young as a bishop, since he was consecrated in 2015.

In 2014, while still a simple parish priest in Rome, he preached the meditations for the first Lenten spiritual exercises of Francis’ pontificate. Eighteen months later, Fr. de Donatis was named auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Rome, and placed in charge of the clergy, deacons, and seminarians.

During his episcopal consecration, the pope spoke to the new bishop in these words: “Most dear brother, remember that you have been chosen from among men and for men. The episcopate is the name of a service, not an honor.”

A native of Apulia, Archbishop de Donatis did some of his seminary in the Eternal City, in the Pontifical Universities of the Lateran and the Gregorian. In 1983, three years after his ordination, Fr. de Donatis was incardinated in the Roman diocese where he was given a parish.

“Don Angelo” – as the faithful of San Marco Evangelista al Campidoglio, his parish in Rome for many years, continue to call him – is above all a charismatic figure. He is the spiritual father and much-appreciated former of many Roman priests; it is no coincidence that his name was by far the most mentioned in the answers to the 400 letters of consultation sent by the pope to the clergy of the Eternal City.

This is the second important nomination for the Church in Italy in the past few days. On May 24, the Sovereign Pontiff nominated Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, archbishop of Perugia, as president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

While the Vicar for the Diocese of Rome is not necessarily a cardinal at the time of his nomination, it is customary for the pope to confer on him the cardinal’s biretta without much delay.