Lombardi's Gradual Retirement -- Vatican Speaker Gives Up General Management of Radio Vatican
Lombardi's Long Departure
(Rome) He gives press conferences daily and is especially prominent for those on pastoral visits beside the Pope, which is why his face and his voice is familiar to all accredited to the Vatican journalists. Soon, you will however have to get used to a new face at the Pope's side. Father Federico Lombardi SJ, since 2006, the director of the Vatican press office, and thus Vatican spokesman, will soon be relieved of his office. In August 2017, the Jesuit will complete his 75th year. His withdrawal from the offices has already begun.
Father Lombardi comes from a Piedmontese family just like Pope Francis. Like him, he also belongs to the Jesuit order. Born in 1942 in Piedmont and raised in Turin, he entered the order of St. Ignatius of Loyola in 1960. Already, his uncle, Father Riccardo Lombardi, was a tireless folk missionary who was once called the "microphone of God". His grandfather Luigi Lombardi (1867-1958) was an internationally renowned Professor of Electrical Engineering and Chairman of the International Electrotechnical Commission IEC, member of numerous domestic and foreign scientific institutions, including the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. With his retirement, he was appointed as a senator for life as a member of the Italian Parliament. It's a dignity that was, however, denied him after the war, as all senators appointed during the Fascist period were annulled by a special court.
Federico Lombardi studied mathematics and theology for several years away at the Jesuit High School in Frankfurt, and was ordained a priest in 1972. Until 1977, he was a member of the editorial staff of the Roman Jesuit journal, La Civilta Cattolica, most recently he has been its deputy editor. After a term as Provincial of the Italian Jesuit Province in 1990, he was program director of Vatican Radio , 2001 Director General of the Vatican Television Center CTV, 2005 also Director General of Vatican Radio and 2006, finally, Head of the Press Office of the Holy See. With the exception of Osservatore Romano and the Vatican publishing house, Lombardi had the entire public relations of the Holy See focused in his hands. In 2008 he was also chosen as one of the four General Assistants of the Superior General of the Jesuits.
A few days before the resignation of Benedict XVI. he gave up the office of the CTV to the Milanese priest and communication scientist, Dario Edoardo Viganò, whom Pope Francis appointed in June 2015 as the first prefect of the newly established Communications Secretariat of the Holy See.
Since last February 1st, Lombardi was replaced by the American Greg Burke (Opus Dei) as the new deputy Vatican spokesman. Burke replaced the Passionist, Father Ciro Benedettini of San Marino as vice-director of the Press Office. Thus the voices grew predicting the dismissal of Father Lombardi. Just whether Opus Dei's Greg Burke should be Vatican spokesman is conjectured, but is not yet clear.
Yesterday, the daily Bulletin of the Press Office announced a change at the top of Vatican Radio. Executive Director, Alberto Gasbarri retires end of the month. The simultaneous resignation of Father Lombardi was also announced in the Bulletin. Literally, it said: "On the occasion of the forthcoming end of service of the Director General, P. Federivo Lombardi SJ at Vatican Radio."
Dicastry Director Viganò appointed Giacomo Ghisani ad interim, as the new administrative director of the Vatican radio station. A successor for Lombardi has not been named. The entire communication area of the Holy See is currently concentrated and rearranged under the umbrella of the new Communications Secretariat.
Lombardi will initially remain at the head of the Press Office of the Holy See, and thus also, the Vatican spokesman. The signs are, however, of change.
"He did not gave me the impression of being an exceptional spokesman for the Holy See, however, he was - which must be recognized - also not given an easy task in a time of many clarifications, corrections, denials and necessary interpretations, into which he was forced. Thus, even the best lose credibility. He is 73 years old and therefore could have been in office for some time. Perhaps he can ask himself about his birth," said the Spanish columnist and noted Catholic blogger, Francisco Fernandez de la Cigoña.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi Picture: Youtube (Screenshot)