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Pope tells new bishop to show love to Vatican employees

Pope Francis embraces Bishop Fernando Vergez during his episcopal ordination (CNS)

Pope Francis ordained Legionaries of Christ Father Fernando Vergez a bishop, urging him to show “real love and tenderness” to the Vatican employees under his care as secretary-general of the office governing Vatican City.

Although the Pope had cancelled his morning appointments on Friday because he was suffering from a cold, he presided over the late-afternoon ordination Mass in St Peter’s Basilica.

Sounding congested, the Pope told his “very dear brother Fernando” that he wanted to thank him on behalf of the whole church for the more than 20 years he spent as private secretary and assistant to the late Argentine Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, former head of the Vatican congregation for religious and council for the laity.

“So many memories spring to my mind right now,” the Pope told him.

As he had done at previous ordinations, Pope Francis’ homily followed the Italian bishops’ ritual text for the ordination of a bishop. The text emphasizes that being a bishop is more a call to service than an honor.

“I remember that great service of tenderness and charity that you gave Cardinal Pironio,” the pope said. “It was a humble and silent service, the service of a son and brother.”

Pope Francis told Bishop Vergez that he was called to continue the work of Christ on earth.

“It is Christ, in fact, who, through the ministry of the bishop, continues to preach the message of salvation and sanctify believers through the sacraments of faith,” the pope said. “It is Christ, through the paternity of the bishop, who continues to raise new members of his body, the church. It is Christ, through the wisdom and prudence of the bishop, who guides the people of God in their earthly pilgrimage.”

As secretary-general of Vatican City, the Pope said, Bishop Vergez is entrusted with “the pastoral care of Vatican employees. Be a father and brother to them with real love and tenderness.”

The Pope had appointed then-Father Vergez to his new post in late August. In mid-October, the Vatican announced the Pope’s decision to make him a bishop and published the Pope’s letter explaining the decision was made because the Vatican has a responsibility “to care for the human and Christian formation of the employees in a direct way.”

Bishop Vergez, a 68-year-old native of Salamanca, Spain, was ordained a priest of the Legionaries of Christ in 1969. After working with Cardinal Pironio at the congregation for religious and the council for laity, he headed the Vatican’s Internet office, from 1994 to 2008, and was named director of the Vatican telecommunications department.