Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy

The Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and the Roman Curia

The Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy (usually referred to in Rome simply as the “academia”) is housed in the Palazzo Severoli located on the Piazza della Minerva, just behind the Pantheon. Founded in April 1701 by Abbot Pietro Garagni during the reign of Pope Clement XI, the academia is dedicated to training priests selected from all over the Catholic world — nowadays, but originally from the ranks of the “nobles” within the Papal states and soon its closest allies — to serve in the diplomatic corps and the Secretariat of State of the Holy See.

Archbishop Celestinio Migliore, currently Apostolic Nuncio to Poland, was Undersecretary for Relations with States December 16, 1995 – 30 October 30, 2002. On that latter date he was appointed Permanent Observer at the UN, New York (where he was assisted for a couple of years by Msgr Leo Cushley).  As Under-Secretary, His Excellency served ex-officio as Professor of Ecclesiastical Diplomacy at the Pontifical Lateran University and had responsibility for delivering the course on papal diplomacy for the students of the academia.

He has described the curriculum thus: “The academic curriculum consists of two years of specialized studies: ecclesiastical diplomacy, international law, monographs on international organizations and on techniques of negotiations; the history of ecclesiastical diplomacy, diplomatic styles, courses on great modern cultural and theological strains; and economic and social questions.

“At the same time, students take courses in information technology and languages. Each student, at the end of the curriculum, has to possess a working knowledge of at least two languages in addition to his mother tongue. The major languages studied are: English, French, Spanish, and German, and, increasingly, Arabic and the languages of Eastern Europe and Asia.” (‘Foreign’ students must already be totally fluent in Italian before selection.)

Each year roughly between eight and twelve diocesan priests from around the world are recruited to the academia; sometimes fewer and sometimes more, but never by much. Ten years ago, the Class of 2002 had 14 students. The Class of 1986, which included our very own Msgr Peter Magee PhB STL JCD (a priest of the Diocese of Galloway and now President of the National Tribunal) there were 5.  Ultimately, the hope would be that the brightest and the best, and NOT the most ambitious, alumni of the academia will in time be appointed as Apostolic Nuncios with the ecclesiastical rank of an archbishop. But obviously not all will, or, indeed, could.

Moreover, even if an alumnus reaches the giddy heights of an Apostolic Nunciature that is not necessarily as far as he will go in service of the Holy See.

It has frequently been remarked upon in the media that the present Cardinal Secretary of State, His Eminence Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, prior to his appointment had no background in Vatican diplomacy. That being the case, it is hardly surprising to discover that he is not an alumnus of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the academia.

Of the academia alumni occupying senior positions within the Roman Curia, and those institutions associated with service to the Holy Father, pride of place must, of course, be given to Cardinal Bertone’s immediate predecessor His Eminence Angelo Cardinal Sodano, Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals and Cardinal Secretary of State Emeritus.
There are currently (Tuesday, Jan 24) another 15 cardinals in curia who are alumni of the academia. Five are serving heads of dicasteries and 10 are Emeriti. However, it should be noted that four of these ten are still cardinal electors.
The dicasteries of the Roman Curia


Cardinal Angelo Sodano (1959/1325); Secretary of State Emeritus and Dean of the Sacred College.

First Section
Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu ( Class of 1980/Enrolment number 1533)(d.o.b. IF cardinal elector: June 2, 1948); Substitute for General Affairs (sostituto), (appointed: May 10, 2011)

Msgr Peter Brian Wells (1996/1688; American); Assessor for General Affairs (assessore) (July 16, 2009);

Archbishop Luciano Suriani (1986/1594)(Jan 11, 1957); Delegate for Pontifical Representations (Sep 24, 2009)

Msgr. Fortunatus Nwachukwu (1992/1646; Nigerian); Head of Protocol (Sep 4, 2007)

Second Section
Archbishop Dominique François Joseph Mamberti (1982/1652, French, Moroccan born)(March 7, 1952); Secretary for the Relations with States (Sep 15, 2006)

Msgr. Ettore Balestrero (1996/162); Undersecretary for the Relations with States (Aug 17, 2009)


Congregation for the Oriental Churches:

Leonardo Cardinal Sandri (1971/1446)(Nov 18, 1943, Argentinean, ethnic Italian); Prefect (Jun 9, 2007); former sostituto (Sep 16, 2000-Jun 9, 2007)

Achille Cardinal Silvestrini (1952/1270); Prefect Emeritus; former Secretary for the relations with States (May 4, 1979-Mar 1, 1986) [Cardinal Silvestrini’s successor as Secretary for the Relations with States was Cardinal Sodano]

Congregation for Bishops:

Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri (1971/1437)(Sep29, 1940); Secretary (Jan 11, 2012)

Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples:

Archbishop/Cardinal-elect Fernando Filoni (1979/1528) (Apr 15, 1946); Prefect (May 10, 2011); former sostituto (Jun 9, 2007-May 10, 2011)

Ivan Cardinal Dias (1962/1346) (April 14, 1936); Prefect Emeritus


Apostolic Penitentiary:

Archbishop/Cardinal-elect Manuel Monteiro de Castro (1965/1377, Portuguese)(Mar 29, 1938); Major Penitentiary (Jan 5, 2012)

Fortunato Cardinal Baldelli (1964/1360)(Aug 6, 1935); Major Penitentiary Emeritus
Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura


Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity:

Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy (1953/1280); President Emeritus

Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace:

Renato Cardinal Raffaele Martino (1960/ 1334) (Nov 23, 1932); President Emeritus

Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

Archbishop/Cardinal-elect Antonio Mari Vegliὸ (1966/1988) (Feb 3, 1938); President (Feb 28, 2009)
Cardinal Giovanni Cheli (1950/1257); President Emeritus

Archbishop Agostino Marchetto (1964/1370); Secretary Emeritus

Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue

Jean-Louis Pierre Cardinal Tauran  (1973/1472)(Apr 5, 1943); President (Jun 25, 2007)

Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata (1965/1375); Secretary (Nov 14, 2002) (Msgr Celata will submit his resignation on January 23 upon attaining his 75th birthday.)

Pontifical Council for Social Communications

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli (1966/1383); President (Jun 27, 2007); former Undersecretary for the Relations with States (1990-Dec 16, 1995)


Apostolic Chamber

Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo (1954/1287); Chamberlain (Camerlengo) Emeritus

Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See

Cardinal Sergio Sebastiano (1958/1318); Prefect Emeritus

Prefecture of the Papal Household

Archbishop James Michael Harvey (1976/1500); Prefect (Feb 7, 1998)

Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See

Cardinal Lorenzo Antonetti (1949/not given); President Emeritus

Cardinal Agostino Cacciavillan (1957/1311); President Emeritus

Synod of Bishops

Archbishop Nikola Eterović (1977/1507); Secretary General (Feb 11, 2004)

Governatorate of Vatican City State

Archbishop/Cardinal-elect Giuseppe Bertello (1967/1390)(Oct 1, 1942); President (Oct 1, 2011; appointed on his 69th birthday)

Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo (1968/1403) (Jan 3, 1935); President Emeritus; former Secretary for the Relations with States (Oct 7, 2003-Sep 15, 2006)

Major Basilicas
Archbishop/Cardinal-elect Santos Abril y Castelló and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata (1965(1963/1537)(Sep 21, 1935); Archpriest of the Basilica of St Mary Major (Nov 21, 2011)

Some Scottish Notes

The Prefect of the Papal Household, Archbishop Michael Harvey gained his Doctorate in Canon Law under the supervision of Fr Clarence Gallagher SJ, Rector Emeritus of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome, and a native of Mossend, Bellshill (Holy Family Parish and School, and Our Lady's High School, Motherwell, my own alma mater).

Archbishop Luciano Suriani was an academia classmate of Msgr Peter Magee, President of the Scottish National Tribunal, and my hope for the succession in Glasgow (Class of 1986) .

Cardinal-elect Manuel Monteiro de Castro and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata
were academia classmates of Msgr Basil Loftus, retired priest of the Diocese of Leeds an now a contributor to The Scottish Catholic Observer (SCO).


(1) His Eminence Paolo Cardinal Sardi, Vice-Chamberlain Emeritus of the Apostolic Chamber, was appointed an official of the Secretariat of State on December 10, 1996, at the same time being accorded the archiepiscopal dignity. However, I can find no listing for him as an alumnus of the academia. Salvador Miranda notes of his education: “he entered the Major Seminary in Torino; from October 1954, he studied theology and philosophy at the Pontificial Gregorian University in Rome and obtained a licentiate in theology in 1958; later, he studied canon law at the same university and obtained a doctorate in this discipline in 1963; then, he studied jurisprudence at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan.”

No mention of the academia. He then describes his priesthood thus: “Ordained, June 29, 1958. From 1963 he taught moral theology at the Theological Faculty of the diocese of Acqui; and later he taught the same discipline at the Theological Faculty in Turin until 1976, when he was called to the Vatican to work in the Secretariat of State. On July 30, 1978, he was named chaplain of His Holiness. On December 24, 1987, he was named prelate of honour of His Holiness. In 1992, he was appointed vice assessor of the Secretariat of State; and in 1997, he was appointed assessor.”

No mention of a diplomatic career until 1976 and his call to the Vatican.

(2) The papal almoner, Archbishop Félix del Blanco Prieto, is a former diplomat. On May 31, 1991 he was nominated Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to São Tomé and Príncipe and Apostolic Delegate to Angola and was ordained Bishop on July 6 following, being provided to the titular archdiocese of Vannida; in May 1996 he was transferred as Nuncio to Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea was added at the end of the following month; in June 2003 he was transferred to Malta and Libya. On July 28, 2007 he was recalled to Rome and given his present assignment. However, he is not listed as an alumnus of the PEA.

In 2006 30 Days (no. 6/7) observed that all the nuncios at that time (there were 102, some covering more than one country) were drawn from the secular clergy except three: the Scalabrinian Silvano Tomasi (UN Geneva), the American Verbite Michael A. Blume (Benin) and the English White Father Michael L. Fitzgerald (Egypt). 30 Days then went on to say that apart from these 3 religious, another 7 nuncios were “also exceptional”. And numbered among them was “the Spaniard Felix del Blanco Prieto (Malta)”. I presume that this means he was not prepared for a diplomatic career at the academia.

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