Pope Francis appoints Father Spadaro to culture and education post

Fr Antonio Spadaro CC 30 via Wikimedia Commons CNA Father Antonio Spadaro, SJ, former editor in chief of La Civilta Cattolica, was appointed undersecretary for the Dicastery for Culture and Education on Sept. 14, 2023. | Credit: Antoniospadaro via Wikimeda (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Pope Francis on Thursday announced the appointment of Father Antonio Spadaro as the undersecretary for the Dicastery for Culture and Education, a position the Jesuit priest will take after over a decade leading an influential Catholic journal in Rome. 

Spadaro will assume office on Jan. 1, 2024, the Vatican said in an announcement. The priest had previously served as the editor of the Jesuit-run La Civiltà Cattolica for 12 years. 

Spadaro, known popularly as “the pope’s mouthpiece” for his regular outspoken defense of the Holy Father, had announced early on Thursday that he was leaving La Civiltà, a decision he said came about from his “Jesuit superiors” that had been “agreed upon one year ago.”

As editor, the priest has sometimes generated controversy such as with his co-authorship of a 2017 article in which the writers criticized so-called “value voters” in the United States who traffic in an “ecumenism of hate.”

The Dicastery for Culture and Education was formed last year after the merger of two other departments, the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Congregation for Catholic Education.

The Vatican says that the cultural wing of the dicastery is “dedicated to the promotion of culture, pastoral activity, and the enhancement of cultural heritage.”

The educational division, meanwhile, works worldwide with bishops and Church authorities to ensure that “the fundamental principles of education, especially Catholic education, may be welcomed and better understood, enabling them to be implemented contextually and culturally.”

The dicastery as a whole “works for the development of people’s human values in the context of Christian anthropology, contributing to the full realization of Christian discipleship,” the Holy See says.

The Italian-born priest said his tenure at the magazine “has been a challenging responsibility that I have lived with enthusiasm since 2011.”

He thanked the Jesuit leaders and contributors to the periodical who “have collaborated to build the network of a magazine that is now fully international.” He described them as “a solid foundation for the future.”

The Vatican in its announcement noted that Spadaro was already a “consultor” of the dicastery as well as “an ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Letters of the Virtuosi al Pantheon.”

Spadaro in his resignation announcement indicated he was ready to leave his long-held post at the magazine. “Twelve years is the right time to give the best without repeating yourself,” he said. 

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