Pope Francis names new head of Vatican Dicastery for Culture and Education

Pope Francis has appointed a Portuguese cardinal as the head of the newly formed Vatican Dicastery for Culture and Education.

Sep 27, 2022

Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça celebrates Mass at Fatima, Portugal, May 13, 2021. | Courtesy of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.


By Courtney Mares
Pope Francis has appointed a Portuguese cardinal as the head of the newly formed Vatican Dicastery for Culture and Education.

The Vatican announced on Sept. 26 that the pope appointed Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça as the prefect of the dicastery.

Mendonça most recently served as the head of the Vatican library and archives, where he oversaw the digitization of historic manuscripts and created a new space for housing temporary exhibitions.

The 56-year-old cardinal, originally from the Portuguese island of Madeira, is an expert in the relationship between literature and theology, according to the Vatican. He has published poetry as well as academic theological articles.

Mendonça has a licentiate from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and a doctorate in biblical theology from the Catholic University of Portugal, where he went on to teach theology as a professor for 14 years.

Pope Francis selected Mendonça to serve as the main preacher for the Roman Curia’s Lenten retreat in 2018. Five months later, the pope appointed him as chief archivist and librarian of the Vatican Apostolic Library with the dignity of archbishop. He was elevated to the rank of cardinal one year later, in 2019.

Mendonça will serve as the first prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Culture and Education.

The new apostolic constitution Praedicate evangelium merged the Vatican’s former Pontifical Council for Culture and the Congregation for Catholic Education together to form the new dicastery.

Divided into two sections, the Dicastery for Culture and Education works “for the development of human values in people within the horizon of Christian anthropology, contributing to the full realization of Christian discipleship,” according to the constitution.

The dicastery also coordinates the activities of some of the pontifical academies, such as the Pontifical Academy of Archeology and the Pontifical Academy of Theology.

The Vatican’s announcement also stated that Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani, the former secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education from 2012–2022, has been selected by the pope as the new archivist and librarian of the Vatican library.

Zani served within the Vatican’s education congregation since 2002, when Pope John Paul II appointed him as undersecretary, its third-highest official.

Pope Francis has appointed Monsignor Giovanni Cesare Pagazzi as the secretary of the Dicastery for Culture and Education. Pagazzi is a professor at the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences in Rome.--CNA

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