.- The secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, an outspoken proponent for the rights of people "on the move," has retired. Having celebrated his 70th birthday on Saturday, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto was eligible for an "early" exit.
Archbishop Marchetto, known for his vocal critiques of world governments which "criminalize" immigrants, took advantage of the Vatican norm which allows retirement for members of the the diplomatic corps at 70 years old. Although it has not yet been announced officially, the news is public knowledge around the Vatican.
Vatican officials normally retire upon completion of their 75th year, but, as he told SIR news, the decision was made a year ago when he submitted his resignation papers anticipating last week's birthday.
He said that he felt it was a "reasonable" request considering the 20 years he spent in Africa, during which time he came down with a serious illness.
Archbishop Marchetto was the Apostolic Nuncio to Madagascar and Mauritius, then, later to Tanzania. He also carried out the same service in Belarus and worked in the Holy See's secretariat of state before becoming the secretary of the council for migrants.
Thanking the Pope for accepting his resignation, Archbishop Marchetto said he is "pleased" to be able to now devote his energies to studying the Second Vatican Council, "a subject I love and that is so important for the Church."
Vatican sources close to the archbishop told CNA that he always saw issues in black and white. Unafraid to speak out against what he saw as injustice, he approached the position in an "upright" manner and with a true attitude of service to the Church.