Amidst the color and excitement of the beatification of John Paul II, a significant changing of the curial guard could be afoot within the Vatican’s corridors of power.
Andrea Tornielli, the Vatican Correspondent of Italian newspaper La Stampa, suggests April 29 that the present Deputy Secretary of State, Archbishop Fernando Filoni, is about to be moved from his post. He’ll now be put in charge of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples also known as Propaganda Fide. And replacing him at the Secretary of State will be the present apostolic nuncio to Cuba, Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu.
The role of Deputy Secretary of State -- or “Sustituto” in Italian- - is crucial to the running of any papacy. He heads up first of the two sections that constitute the Secretariat of State. His role includes filling the posting of nuncios around the world, making curial appointments in Rome, as well as advising and traveling with the Pope. In effect, he is the “transmission belt of papal will,” says Tornielli. In the 20th century two occupants of the post went on to become Pope.
The new man expected to fill Archbishop Filoni’s spot is 62-year-old Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu. Originally from Pattada on the Italian island of Sicily, he was ordained a priest in 1972.
Since 1984 he has been part of the Holy See’s diplomatic service. His work has taken him to nunciatures in Angola, New Zealand, Britain, France, the United States and presently Cuba. If Tornielli is correct, he should be in his new post within the Vatican by May.