PAPAL VISIT TO ASTI FOR “FAMILY TIME” – POPE APPOINTS RELIGION TEACHER AS NEW SECRETARY FOR DICASTERY FOR LAITY, FAMILY AND LIFE

An important weekend for two people: Pope Francis who visited family in Asti, in Italy’s northern region of Piedmont, and Brazilian-born Gleison De Paula Souza, a family man and high school teacher in Puglia, southern Italy, whom the Pope named as secretary of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.

I remember interviewing the late Cardinal Francis George of Chicago the day before the cardinal electors started meeting in congregations before the March 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis. He noted that the reform of the Roman Curia was high on the agenda of many cardinals, and suggested that the time had come for well-qualified lay people to head some of the offices in the Roman Curia, and to be placed in positions of importance. For example, Cardinal George specified he saw no reason why a competent, experience layman or woman should not head a pontifical council (The councils are now called dicasteries).

And Pope Francis has brought some lay people into responsible positions during the reform of the Roman Curia. Though none head a dicastery, he did name Lateran University Professor Vincenzo Buonomo to head the Disciplinary Commissionof the Roman Curia in 2021.

PAPAL VISIT TO ASTI FOR “FAMILY TIME”

Bishop Marco Prastaro told Vatican News: “The Pope threw himself into our arms.”Asti’s bishop, who accompanied Francis on his two days in Piedmont, spoke of “an experience of great joy and great human warmth that made us feel part of something beautiful.” The inhabitants of Asti took “a step forward towards him, and the Pontiff embraced us all,” one by one. Of the homily, the bishop said: “He reminded us that God is present in every man’s life and takes it all into consideration.”

Before boarding the helicopter, Bishop Prastaro told Vatican News, “the Pope thanked us for the warm welcome and added ‘sorry to disturb you’. I had just said to him again: ‘Holiness, come back whenever you want, this is your home’.” Asti’s bishop thus recalled the final moments of the “long-awaited meeting” with Pope Francis, who came “to rediscover the flavor of his roots” as he confided in the Mass in the cathedral.

This photo of Pope Francis – nè Jorge Mario Bergoglio – was taken in the bishop’s residence in Asti with several generations of his relatives.

POPE APPOINTS RELIGION TEACHER AS NEW SECRETARY FOR DICASTERY FOR LAITY, FAMILY AND LIFE

A 38-year-old husband and father of two, Gleison De Paula Souza has been appointed secretary of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. Originally hailing from Brazil, Souza teaches high school in Puglia.

By Vatican News staff reporter

Originally from the state of Minas Geiras, in south-eastern Brazil, Gelison De Paula Souza’s journey has taken him to Puglia, in the ‘heel’ of Italy, and now to the Vatican. On Thursday, Pope Francis appointed Souza as secretary of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. Thirty-eight years old, married and father of two daughters, De Paula Souza teaches religion at a secondary school, the A. Vallone Liceo Scientifico e Linguistico Statale in Galatina, Puglia.

The newly appointed secretary of the dicastery was a member of the Orionian religious family, between 2005 and 2016. In 2015, he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Theology at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome and in 2019 a Master’s degree in Philosophical Sciences at the University of Salento in Lecce.