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Who is Fr. Daniel Pellizzón, the Pope’s new secretary?

Padre Daniel Pellizzón con el Papa Francisco

Courtesy of Arzobispado de Buenos Aires

Esteban Pittaro - published on 08/16/23

Prior to his ordination, Fr. Daniel Pellizzón had already collaborated with Pope Francis when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

The Holy Father has appointed a new personal secretary. The information was released by the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, as the priest who will assume this function is part of that archdiocese.

Fr. Daniel Pellizzón is replacing Fr. Gonzalo Aemilius, an Uruguayan priest of the clergy of Montevideo. Fr. Aemilius, whom the Pope also knew for his previous social work, had assumed that role in 2020.

His 3rd personal secretary, the 2nd from Argentina

“I share with joy that Fr. Daniel Pellizzon, a priest of this Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, has been called by Pope Francis to be his personal secretary, replacing Fr. Gonzalo Aemilius. At the beginning of August he will travel to Rome to begin the task entrusted to him. We pray for him in this new mission entrusted to him at the service of the Church,” said Archbishop Jorge García Cuerva, the head of the archdiocese of Buenos Aires.

The first person to assist the Pope with his schedule and his day-to-day life was Fr. Fabian Pedacchio. The Argentinean priest was already working in the Roman Curia at the time of the Pope’s election, and Francis knew him from his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Fr. Pedacchio resumed full dedication to his work in the Congregation of Bishops in 2020.

Unlike his predecessors, Pope Francis has entrusted different people with the mission of accompanying him as his personal secretary. It’s a fundamental mission of helping the Holy Father on a daily basis to be able to combine prayer and meetings with state leaders, bishops around the world, and the faithful in remote countries, as well as to keep in touch with family, etc.

The new secretary’s background

Fr. Daniel Pellizzón was ordained to the priesthood on November 3, 2018, in a celebration held at the parish of St. Benedict the Abbot by Cardinal Mario Poli. For the occasion, Pope Francis, with whom he had collaborated when the Holy Father was still Archbishop of Buenos Aires in the organization of his archive, sent him some words in his own handwriting on a postcard in which he asked him “to continue being merciful.”

The then-Archbishop of La Plata, Victor Fernández, gave the homily at Fr. Pellizzón’s first Mass — a gesture that tradition suggests be reserved for a fellow priest who is close to the newly ordained. Archbishop Fernández has since, in recent days, been appointed Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. Prior to his ordination, Fr. Pellizzón had collaborated with him when he was Rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina.

Fr. Pellizzón, now 40 years old, started his ministry at the San Cayetano shrine in Liniers, a neighborhood of Buenos Aires. He served there for one year as deacon and then four years as parochial vicar. It’s one of the most popular shrines of the City, the home of the patron saint of work, incessantly visited by pilgrims. There, regular parishioners hold very pleasant memories of him, according to testimonies on social networks.

In February of this year he was assigned as vicar to the parish of Our Lady of Mercy, where he served until now. Curiously, that parish — beyond representing a trait that the Pope personally entrusted to Pellizzón at his ordination — also unites him particularly to the pontiff. Pope Francis has known that parish since the 1940s, when he spent vacations with his grandparents.

God shakes things up

After hearing the news of his appointment, Fr. Pellizzón shared his impressions with the faithful of his parish at Mass that same day. Fr. Daniel expressed his gratitude for the congratulations and prayers, and assured them that, as the faithful had surely perceived, the unexpected call took him by surprise and was like a “bucket of cold water” for him. He explained the feeling with a psalm that many times, he said, accompanies him in his life.

The text in question is Psalm 33, verse 10. “The Lord undoes the plans of the nations. One may have a plan, a strategy, a path, but God shakes things up when you think everything is sure … like the parable. ‘Ah, I already have my whole barn full, I’m going to give myself a good life,’ and God says, ‘You fool! This very night you are going to die,’” said Fr. Pellizzón, acknowledging that he was comfortable in the parish and also had projects ahead of him. “God always shakes things up wisely. He takes us out of our place so we can grow in humility,” he added.

But, in the face of such a mission, he showed confidence. “If God entrusts you with a mission, he will never let go of your hand, and he will never stop giving you the grace to carry out that mission. That is my security. Not my own, but my trust placed in God. That is the prayer I ask of you,” he said. “May God always give me the grace for the mission he entrusts to me. May it be within my reach. Surely it will be so, but that is why we always intercede for one another to sustain one another in faith,” he concluded.

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