Lorenzo Baldisseri

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Lorenzo Baldisseri
Secretary General emeritus of the Synod of Bishops
Baldisseri in 2017
ChurchCatholic Church
Appointed21 September 2013
Term ended16 September 2020
PredecessorNikola Eterovic
SuccessorMario Grech
Other post(s)
Ordination29 June 1963
by Ugo Camozzo
Consecration7 March 1992
by Angelo Sodano
Created cardinal22 February 2014
by Pope Francis
Personal details
Lorenzo Baldisseri

(1940-09-29) 29 September 1940 (age 83)
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous post(s)
  • Titular Archbishop of Diocletiana (1992–2014)
  • Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti (1992–1995)
  • Apostolic Nuncio to Paraguay (1995–1999)
  • Apostolic Nuncio to India (1999–2002)
  • Apostolic Nuncio to Nepal (1999–2002)
  • Apostolic Nuncio to Brazil (2002–2012)
  • Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops (2012–2013)
  • Secretary of the Sacred College of Cardinals (2012–2014)
Alma materUniversity of Perugia, Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, Pontifical Lateran University
MottoItinere Laete Servire Domino
(Serve the Lord Joyfully)
Coat of armsLorenzo Baldisseri's coat of arms
Ordination history of
Lorenzo Baldisseri
Priestly ordination
Date29 June 1963
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorAngelo Sodano
Co-consecratorsJustin Rigali
Alessandro Plotti
Date7 March 1992
Elevated byPope Francis
Date22 February 2014
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Lorenzo Baldisseri as principal consecrator
Afonso Fioreze15 February 2004
Severino Clasen25 June 2005
Ângelo Pignoli11 March 2007
Juarez Sousa Da Silva17 May 2008
José Moreira da Silva17 January 2009
Odelir José Magri12 December 2010
Jaime Spengler5 February 2011
Styles of
Lorenzo Baldisseri
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Lorenzo Baldisseri (Italian pronunciation: [loˈrɛntso baldisˈsɛːri]) (born 29 September 1940) is an Italian prelate of the Catholic Church who served as Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops from 21 September 2013 until 15 September 2020. He was made a cardinal in 2014. He previously served as Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops after more than twenty years in the diplomatic service of the Holy See that included stints as Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti, Paraguay, India, Nepal, and Brazil.

Early years[edit]

Baldisseri was born in Barga, in the province of Lucca, Italy, on 29 September 1940 and ordained on 29 June 1963. He studied at the Pontifical Lateran University and the University of Perugia from 1970 to 1973. He earned a doctorate in canon law, with a thesis entitled: "The Nunciature in Tuscany".[1] To prepare for a diplomatic career he entered the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in 1971.[2] He then joined the diplomatic service of the Holy See and served in many areas of the world over the next two decades.

On 15 January 1992, Pope John Paul II appointed him Titular Archbishop of Diocletiana and Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti.[3] He was named Apostolic Nuncio to Paraguay on 6 April 1995.[4] He then took up a pair of titles, Apostolic Nuncio to India on 19 June 1999[5] and Apostolic Nuncio to Nepal on 23 June 1999.[6] He was appointed to his last diplomatic post as nuncio to Brazil on 12 November 2002.[7]

Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops[edit]

He was appointed secretary of the Congregation for Bishops on 11 January 2012.[8] He served as secretary of the College of Cardinals from 7 March 2012 to 28 January 2014.[9] In that role he served as secretary of the 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis. At the end of that conclave, Pope Francis gave Baldisseri his red zucchetto, indicating that he would soon make him a cardinal.[10][11][a]

In January 2013, he reported on Pope Benedict XVI's meetings with the world's bishops. Known as ad limina visits, they are supposed to occur every five years. Baldisseri said that it had taken Benedict more than seven years to complete the full cycle.[13]

In early September 2013, Baldisseri was part of a group of 30 officials of the Roman Curia who met with Pope Francis to offer their views and concerns with respect to his proposed reorganization of the Vatican's administrative apparatus.[14]

General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops[edit]

Pope Francis named Baldisseri the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops on 21 September 2013.[15] His central responsibility was to organize the synod operations according to the pope's vision, "to radically revamp its working methods".[16][17]

In October 2013 Baldisseri asked national bishops conferences around the world to conduct a wide-ranging poll of Catholics asking for their opinions on church teachings on contraception, same-sex marriage and divorce.[18] Baldisseri asked the episcopal conferences to distribute the poll "immediately as widely as possible to deaneries and parishes so that input from local sources can be received." The poll, which comes in a questionnaire sent to national bishops' conferences globally in preparation for a Vatican synod on the family next October, was the first time the church's central hierarchy has asked for such input from grass-roots Catholics since the establishment of the synod system following the Second Vatican Council.[19]

In a May 2014 newspaper interview, Baldisseri said it was time to update Church doctrine in connection with divorce and people who are in civil partnerships: "The Church is not timeless, she lives amidst the vicissitudes of history and the Gospel must be known and experienced by people today.... It is in the present that the message should be, with all respect for the integrity from whom the message has been received. We now have two synods to treat this complex theme of the family and I believe that these dynamics in two movements will allow a more adequate response to the expectations of the people."[20]

In July 2014, Baldisseri said that the structure of the upcoming extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family would be shorter than previous synods and would include new rules aimed at helping the bishops really grapple with the issues together: "We want a frank, open, civilized discussion,".[21] Along with Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi, Baldisseri served as the public voice of the synod, explaining its procedures and the ways its format departed from those of previous synods.[22][23]

The topics raised in the questionnaire included contraception, divorce and remarriage, same-sex marriage, premarital sex and in vitro fertilization. Some responses questioned the church's teaching or encouraged greater understanding of people who cannot always live up to that teaching. Cardinal Baldisseri said that the bishops "must recognize that the faithful perceive the truth" about the Gospel and its values and their input cannot be ignored. "But the bishops have the responsibility and authority to discern ways to apply the constant teaching of the church," he said. The big change from past synods is that the voting members of the extraordinary synod will be asked to submit their presentations in writing at least two weeks before the meeting opens, the cardinal said."This is not to limit the discussion, but to help organize it". The report opening the synod, which used to be a rephrasing of the synod working document, now will be a first summary of the bishops' submissions, he said.[21]

At a 3 October 2014 press conference, when asked how the Synod on the Family would address the topic of divorced and remarried Catholics, he said "The Synod is about family, not divorce. Let's not monopolize it with Western problems. We need to present the beauty of the family to the world" and "we want to walk and view the global challenges to find an answer in the light of the Gospel".[24] He served as the synod's general secretary.[25]


Pope Francis raised Baldisseri to the rank of Cardinal-Deacon on 22 February 2014 and assigned him to the deaconry of Sant’Anselmo all'Aventino.

In December 2013 he was appointed as a member of the Congregation for Bishops[26] and that appointment was confirmed in May 2014 after he became a cardinal.[27]

On 13 September 2014 he was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.[28]

Pope Francis appointed Mario Grech Pro-Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops on 2 October 2019 to serve in anticipation of Baldisseri's retirement.[29] Pope Francis accepted Baldisseri's resignation on 15 September 2020.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pope John XXIII upon his election in 1958 had performed a similar action, placing his zucchetto on the head of Alberto di Jorio, secretary of the conclave, and making him a cardinal six weeks later.[12]


  1. ^ "Lorenzo Baldisseri". Osservatore Romano. 22 February 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  2. ^ "Pontificia Accademia Ecclesiastica, Ex-alunni 1950 – 1999" (in Italian). Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  3. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXXXIV. 1992. pp. 180, 182. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  4. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXXXVII. 1995. p. 535. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  5. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. XCI. 1999. p. 845. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  6. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. XCI. 1999. p. 919. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  7. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 12.11.2002" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 12 November 2002. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  8. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 11.02.2012" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 11 January 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  9. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine - Nomina del Segretario del Collegio Cardinalizio" (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  10. ^ Domingues, Felipe (15 March 2013). "Ex-embaixador da Santa Sé no Brasil é o primeiro cardeal nomeado por Francisco". O Estado de S. Paulo (in Portuguese). Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  11. ^ "Dom Lorenzo Baldisseri recebe solideu cardinalício" (in Portuguese). Radio Vaticano (Portuguese Section). 16 March 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  12. ^ Magister, Sandro (26 March 2013). "Lo strano caso del "cardinale a metà"". L'Espresso (in Italian). Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  13. ^ Wooden, Cindy (10 December 2013). "Pope Benedict completes 'ad limina' visits with world's bishops". National Catholic Reporter. Catholic News Service. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  14. ^ Rocca, Francis X. (10 September 2013). "Pope hears officials' input on reforming Vatican bureaucracy". National Catholic Reporter. Catholic News Service. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  15. ^ Coday, Denis (21 September 2013). "Vatican announces curial appointments". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  16. ^ O'Connell, Gerard (8 March 2014). "After a conclave that demanded reform, a year of 'fresh air'". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  17. ^ Mickens, Robert (27 October 2014). "Next on Pope Francis' agenda: Curia reform, personnel moves, a revamped synod". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2016. Pope Francis is believed to be working with the man he appointed as secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, in a continuing effort to transform the mechanisms and procedures of this collegial body in the run-up to its next assembly in October 2015.
  18. ^ "Synod of Bishops: Preparatory Document". Holy See. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  19. ^ McElwee, Joshua J. (10 December 2013). "Vatican: Bishops must consult 'grass roots' on family synod". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  20. ^ Pentin, Edward (7 May 2014). "Synod Secretary General Wants Change in Church's Teaching on Marriage". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  21. ^ a b Wooden, Cindy. "Changes in synod process designed to increase discussion, cardinal says". Catholic News Service. Archived from the original on 5 August 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  22. ^ McElwee, Joshua J. (2 October 2015). "New process for Synod of Bishops aims at allowing more dialogue". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  23. ^ McElwee, Joshua J. (3 October 2015). "Vatican: Synod will be 'original and innovative,' but with limited public information". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  24. ^ Harris, Elise (3 October 2014). "Vatican official says synod is 'about family, not divorce'". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  25. ^ McElwee, Joshua J. (31 October 2013). "Vatican asks for parish-level input on synod document". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  26. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (16 December 2013). "Wuerl named to bishops' panel; Burke not confirmed". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  27. ^ Wooden, Cindy (22 May 2014). "Pope assigns new cardinals to congregations, councils". National Catholic Reporter. Catholic News Service. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  28. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 13.09.2014" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  29. ^ "Rinunce e nomine, 02.10.2019" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 2 October 2019. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  30. ^ "Resignations and Appointments, 16.09.2020" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 16 September 2020. Retrieved 16 September 2020.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti
15 January 1992 – 6 April 1995
Succeeded by
Preceded by Apostolic Nuncio to Paraguay
6 April 1995 – 19 June 1999
Succeeded by
Preceded byas Apostolic Pro-Nuncio Apostolic Nuncio to India
19 June 1999 – 12 November 2002
Succeeded by
Apostolic Nuncio to Nepal
23 June 1999 – 12 November 2002
Preceded by Apostolic Nuncio to Brazil
12 November 2002 – 11 January 2012
Succeeded by
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops
11 January 2012 – 21 September 2013
Succeeded by
Secretary of the College of Cardinals
7 March 2012 – 28 January 2014
Preceded by Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops
21 September 2013 – 15 September 2020
Succeeded by
Preceded by Cardinal Deacon of Sant'Anselmo all'Aventino
22 February 2014 – present