Velasio de Paolis

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His Eminence
Velasio de Paolis, C.S.
President Emeritus of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See
Appointed 12 April 2008
Term ended 21 September 2011
Predecessor Sergio Sebastiani
Successor Giuseppe Versaldi
Other posts Cardinal-Deacon of Gesù Buon Pastore alla Montagnola
Ordination 18 March 1961
Consecration 21 February 2004
by Angelo Sodano
Created Cardinal 20 November 2010
by Pope Benedict XVI
Rank Cardinal-Deacon
Personal details
Birth name Velasio de Paolis
Born (1935-09-19) 19 September 1935 (age 81)
Sonnino, Kingdom of Italy
Nationality Italian
Denomination Roman Catholic
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Velasio de Paolis
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Informal style Cardinal
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Velasio de Paolis, C.S., JCD, STL, (born 19 September 1935) is an Italian member of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo and a cardinal of the Catholic Church. He is a President Emeritus of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See and is Pontifical Delegate for the religious institute of the Legionaries of Christ.[1]

Early life[edit]

De Paolis was born in 1935 in Sonnino, Latina, and was received into the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo on 4 October 1958.[2]

De Paolis was sent to Rome to complete his studies, he received his doctorate in canon law in the faculty of canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University, a licentiate in theology at the faculty of theology at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum and a law degree La Sapienza University in Rome. He was ordained to the priesthood on 18 March 1961, and taught canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.[3]

Since 1971 he served as professor of canon law in the faculty of canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1980 as professor and since 1983. Since 1987 he is Professor at the Faculty of Canon Law at the Pontifical Urban University, where, after becoming a professor, dean since 1998 has the same option.

Curial service[edit]

On 30 December 2003, De Paolis was appointed Secretary of the Apostolic Signatura and Titular Bishop of Thelepte [4] by Pope John Paul II.[2] He received his episcopal consecration on 21 February 2004 from Cardinal Angelo Sodano, with Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, CS, and Bishop Francesco Saverio Salerno serving as co-consecrators.[2] In response to the murder of two priests in Turkey and Nigeria, he declared, "Enough now with this turning the other cheek! It's our duty to protect ourselves...The West has had relations with the Arab countries for half a century, mostly for oil, and has not been able to get the slightest concession on human rights."[4]

De Paolis was later named President of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See by Pope Benedict XVI on 12 April 2008, also being promoted to Titular Archbishop of Thelepte.[2] As President, he essentially serves as the chief auditor for the Vatican.

Refusing to allow the film adaption of Dan Brown's novel Angels & Demons to be filmed at churches in Rome, De Paolis said that Brown had "turned the gospels upside down to poison the faith...It would be unacceptable to transform churches into film sets so that his blasphemous novels can be made into films in the name of business."[5] He also added that Brown's work "wounds common religious feelings."[5]

On 25 January 2010 he was appointed as a member of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church's highest court, in addition to his duties at the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.[6] On 29 December 2010 he was appointed a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. He will hold these memberships until his 80th birthday.

He was created Cardinal-Deacon with the title of Gesù Buon Pastore alla Montagnola by Pope Benedict XVI in the consistory of 20 November 2010. On 4 May 2011, Pope Benedict appointed him a member of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, on which he served until he reached the mandatory retirement age of 80 in 2015.

De Paolis' resignation from his position as president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs was accepted on 21 September 2011, for the reasons of his age. He was succeeded by Archbishop Giuseppe Versaldi, until then Bishop of Alessandria.

Pontifical Delegate for the Legionaries of Christ[edit]

On 9 July 2010, Pope Benedict appointed Archbishop de Paolis as Pontifical Delegate for the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ,[7] after the alleged abuses by its founder became public and were admitted by the congregation.

In October of the same year, De Paolis suggested that the Legion should redefine its mission and its governing structure. He acknowledged that questions remained about how much other Legion leaders knew about Father Maciel's abuses and that finding the truth is "not that simple". Plans for a renewal process could take three years or more. He and four advisers would work with Legion officials to revise the congregation's constitution, and consideration was being given to appointing a committee to address complaints made against the Legion and another to address financial management issues in the congregation. The process would include an investigation, headed by Archbishop Ricardo Blazquez of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Valladolid in Valladolid, Spain, of the lay branch of the congregation, known as Regnum Christi.[8]

On 20 October 2011 Cardinal De Paolis disclosed, in a letter,[9] that an investigation of Regnum Christi uncovered a series of concerns, which would require rewriting the group's norms. Vatican officials expressed concern that the consecrated members of Regnum Christi were overly subject to the Legion and called for their own structure of authority while keeping close ties to the Legion. Cardinal De Paolis said that “the issues regarding personal and community life that have emerged from this same visitation on an institutional level initially appear to be many and challenging.” He indicated, however, that Regnum Christi would continue its affiliation with the Legion of Christ,[10] but that the lay group would be split from the Legion itself.

In a 21 November 2011 letter, Cardinal De Paolis asked the consecrated in Regnum Christi to edit their core set of norms, and took force away from a more extensive set of norms. The core set of norms (128 in number) were approved by the Vatican in 2004, not the more extensive ones (over 1,000 in number). He said a small commission would be formed soon to extract from the more extensive rules only those that are strictly necessary for their life and governance.[11]

He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2013 papal conclave that elected Pope Francis.

In 2014 Cardinal De Paolis said one of the "key points" in the redrafted constitution is a "clearer and more accurate distinction between the internal forum and the external forum, and between the sacramental forum and -- let us say -- the disciplinary, external forum." The reference seemed to indicate that the revised constitution would permit Legionaries to choose their own confessors, removing a requirement that they confess only to priests chosen by superiors. He said drafters of the new constitution had found it necessary to "reaffirm that authority is not arbitrary but must operate within a council."[12] [13]


On 26 October 2011 it was reported that disillusioned members are leaving the order as they lose faith that the Vatican will push through the necessary changes. Cardinal de Paolis said in an interview that Pope Benedict tasked him only with guiding the Legion and helping rewrite its norms – not "decapitating" its leadership or avenging wrongdoing. Cardinal de Paolis ruled out any further investigation into the crimes of Marciel Maciel. He added, "I don't see what good would be served" by further inquiry into a coverup. "Rather, we would run the risk of finding ourselves in an intrigue with no end. Because these are things that are too private for me to go investigating." Reports estimate 70 of the 890 Legion priests and upwards of a third of the movement's 900 consecrated women have left or are taking time away to ponder their future. De Paolis defended his commitment and approach to the reform, saying said he had "inserted" himself into the Legion's administration, expanded the Legion's governing council and shuffled some superiors around. He said he hasn't dismissed any superiors outright because he needs them to learn the complex details of the order's structure, culture and finances. He said his priority was to persuade the Legion's leaders to sow change from within.[14]

Vatileaks scandal[edit]

In October 2012 Cardinal de Paolis told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that there was precedent for the Pope to pardon Paolo Gabriele, who has been found guilty of stealing confidential papal documents and leaking them to the media. Asked whether Gabriele would be jailed or pardoned, Cardinal de Paolis said only the Pope could decide. But he added: "I feel I can say that, with a full confession of honest remorse and the absolute certainty that the crime cannot be committed again, popes have always issued, in favour of the condemned, measures dictated by the mercy that is the essence of the Church, which is always close to her children, even those found guilty."[15]

2013 conclave[edit]

Cardinal de Paolis took part in the 2013 papal conclave as he was under 80 years of age and therefore has a vote. He called Roger Cardinal Mahony's participation in the selection of the next pope "troubling," but added that there was no formal procedure to bar Cardinal Mahony from attending the conclave, noting that the said cardinal "has the right and duty to take part,” and "the rules must be followed.”. The remarks by Cardinal de Paolis added to a growing murmur about the propriety of Cardinal Mahony's decision to attend the conclave. Mahony had recently been rebuked by his successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, for his handling of sexual abuse cases, although Gomez also has expressed support for Mahony's participation in the papal conclave.[16]