Efficient doer and excellent organizer

Efficient doer and excellent organizer

For 30 years, Giovanni Battista Re was an influential mover and shaker in the Vatican: "Minister of the Interior," head of personnel, and election director at the conclave that produced Francis. This Wednesday Re completes his 85th birthday. Birthday.

For three decades, Giovanni Battista Re was one of the most influential figures in the Vatican. As "Minister of the Interior" he was one of the closest collaborators of John Paul II. (1978-2005). From 2000, he headed the Congregation of Bishops with the rank of cardinal, making him a kind of chief of staff of the Church.

His most prominent appearance, of course, came after his retirement, when he presided over the conclave in March 2013 that produced Pope Francis. This Wednesday, the still spry churchman from northern Italy celebrates his 85th birthday. Birthday.

Efficient doer and excellent organizer

In his 28 years at the Secretariat of State, Re earned a reputation as an efficient doer and excellent organizer. He was first an assessor there and from 1979 a substitute – the "number three" in the Vatican after the pope and the secretary of state. All important Vatican procedures passed over his desk. Re decided swiftly and decisively. In the evening, his desk was always empty, staff reported.

Giovanni Battista Re was born on 30. Born in Borno near Lake Garda in January 1934. His father was a carpenter; one of his sisters joined the Canossian Order. After ordination to the priesthood in 1957, Re earned a doctorate in canon law at the Gregorian University. Three years as a lecturer at the seminary of his native diocese of Brescia and as chaplain of a suburban parish there followed before he graduated from the Pontifical Diplomatic Academy in Rome. Stations abroad were Panama and Iran. In 1971 he came to the headquarters in Rome.

After years in the Secretariat of State, the Vatican's "Ministry of the Interior," he moved to the Congregation of Bishops as secretary for two years in 1987 before aming the post of Minister of the Interior.

How much John Paul II. appreciated his loyal collaborator was evident from the fact that in 1998, during a summer vacation in the northern Italian Alps, he made a detour to Res' hometown of Borno to visit his family privately.

Head of the Congregation of Bishops

Also Benedict XVI. (2005-2013) continued to use Res' services as head of the Congregation of Bishops for four years. However, in the last year of service, a shadow fell on his administration: Res signature is written under the decree of 21. January 2009, with which the Vatican lifted the excommunication of the four bishops of the Pius Brotherhood, including that of Holocaust denier Richard Williamson.

The commission "Ecclesia Dei" was primarily responsible for the failed initiative. Re also loudly vented his anger in a larger, admittedly internal, circle.

What part Re played in the appointment of Theodore McCarrick (88) as archbishop of Washington – despite rumors of McCarrick's sexual misconduct – is to be revealed by an internal Vatican investigation currently underway. Re had then been head of the Congregation of Bishops for three months when McCarrick moved from Newark to Washington in November 2000. Re is said to have opposed McCarrick's appointment.

Leadership of the conclave

The leadership of the March 2013 conclave after Benedict XVI's surprise resignation. Re owed his leadership to the fact that Cardinal Dean Angelo Sodano and Vice-Dean Roger Etchegaray were already over 80 and could no longer vote for reasons of age.

With that, the task went to the oldest of the voting cardinal bishops. Re took oath of secrecy and adherence to rules from 115 voters. And once elected, he addressed the question to Jorge Mario Bergoglio: "Do you accept your canonical election as Pope?"

At 85, the emeritus cardinal of the Curia enjoys good health, maintains lively contacts. He occupies one of the most sought-after apartments in the Vatican; the roof terrace on the archpriest's palazzo, converted into a penthouse by former Cardinal Secretary of State Agostino Casaroli (1914-1998), offers a view of the Vatican Gardens. From there, it's not far to the Santa Marta guesthouse, where he frequently meets with guests. And where he could then also meet the Pope.

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