Pope names Cardinal Versaldi new prefect of education congregation

Pope Francis talks with Italian Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi as they leave the concluding session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican last October. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis talks with Italian Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi as they leave the concluding session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican last October. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis named 71-year-old Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the Prefecture of the Economic Affairs of the Holy See since 2011, to be the new prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

The Italian cardinal succeeds Polish Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, who had led the congregation since 1999. In October Cardinal Grocholewski turned 75, the normal retirement age for the heads of Vatican offices.

Until early 2013, the congregation included responsibility for seminaries, Catholic schools and universities. In one of his last official acts, Pope Benedict XVI transferred responsibility for seminary education to the Congregation for Clergy.

Much of Cardinal Grocholewski’s leadership focused on strengthening the Catholic identity of Catholic schools and, particularly, of Catholic universities. He also issued decrees on revising the curriculum for degrees in canon law and Vatican-recognized degrees in philosophy.

Before responsibility for seminaries was transferred, he also issued an instruction in 2005 saying the church cannot allow the priestly ordination of men who are active homosexuals, who have “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” or who support the “gay culture.”

Cardinal Versaldi, Cardinal Grocholewski’s successor, is a former professor of canon law and psychology and was part of Vatican-appointed team investigating the centers and institutions of the Legionaries of Christ, whose late founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, was accused of sexually abusing minors and fathering children.

In January, Pope Francis named Cardinal Versaldi a member of the new board of review within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The board hears and rules on appeals filed by priests laicized or otherwise disciplined in sexual abuse or other serious cases.

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