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Friend of Pope Francis leaves Jesuit magazine for Vatican’s education department


Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA | I.Media

I.Media - published on 09/14/23

After 12 years leading a Jesuit magazine, Father Antonio Spadaro, a close friend of Francis, has been named to the Vatican's culture dicastery.

Pope Francis has appointed a member of his spiritual family generally considered a close friend of his, Jesuit priest Antonio Spadaro, as undersecretary of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, the Holy See Press Office announced on September 14, 2023. Spadaro, 57, has been director of the Italian Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica (the Catholic Civilization)for the last 12 years and will be succeeded by Father Nuno da Silva Gonçalves. The magazine publishes Pope Francis’ customary conversation with the Jesuit groups he meets every time he travels abroad. 

On January 1, 2024, Father Antonio Spadaro will take up his new post as “number three” in the dicastery presided by Portuguese Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça.

Father Spadaro has been a consultant to the Vatican body since 2011. He will work alongside the current undersecretary, Antonella Sciarrone Alibrandi. The dicastery has two secretaries, Monsignor Tighe Paul Desmond and Monsignor Pagazzi Giovanni Cesare.

The Italian Jesuit was born on July 6, 1966, in Messina, Sicily and, after studying philosophy, entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in 1988. He was ordained a priest on December 21, 1996, and took his solemn vows as a Jesuit on May 24, 2007. In 2000, Father Spadaro completed a doctorate in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He started writing for the Italian Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica in 1998 and then became its director in 2011.

An important figure during Francis’ pontificate

A close friend of Pope Francis, in recent years Father Spadaro has given the bi-monthly magazine an important strategic position, as it has become a channel for presenting the geopolitics of the 266th pope. Notably, La Civiltà Cattolica published the Argentinian pontiff’s first interview after his election. Father Spadaro has also accompanied Pope Francis on his trips abroad and after each one published in the magazine the Pontiff’s exchange with the country’s Jesuits. 

During his years directing the publication, it published its 4000th issue on February 11, 2017, and celebrated its 170th anniversary (1850-2020). It is now published in nine languages, including Chinese, Korean and Japanese. It publishes articles from some 200 Jesuits around the globe.

New director for La Civiltà Cattolica

Father Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, has appointed Father Nuno da Silva Gonçalves as director of the magazine starting on October 1. The 65-year-old Portuguese prelate was rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University for six years, from 2016 to 2022. He started writing for La Civiltà Cattolica last January.

La Civiltà Cattolica has close ties with the Vatican, since its texts are traditionally proofread by the Secretariat of State. Until the pontificate of John XXIII (1958-1963), it was the pope himself who was responsible for reading the articles before they were published. John XXIII decided to transfer this responsibility to his Secretary of State. Then it became that of the members of the Secretariat of State. The magazine’s main point of contact now is the undersecretary for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State.

In 2013, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, former Holy See undersecretary for Relations with States, explained to I.MEDIA in detail how the review process works. Each article, depending on its theme, is carefully examined by a member of the Secretariat of State according to his or her expertise. Submitted texts may be subject to additions, modifications, or improvements. It is then up to the undersecretary to spend some time considering the suggestions of the various correctors, and to make a final decision. In exceptional cases, the entire article is rejected. Nevertheless, Archbishop Celli confided that he had refused to publish only three articles during his five-year tenure at the Secretariat of State.

CulturePope FrancisVatican
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