Pope orders visitation of clergy congregation before prefect retires

Pope Francis greets Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, during an audience with participants in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for Clergy at the Vatican in this June 1, 2017, file photo. Stella will reach the mandatory retirement age of 80 Aug. 18. Pope Francis has asked an Italian bishop to conduct an official visit at the congregation in advance of Stella's retirement and the naming of a new prefect. (CNS/L'Osservatore Romano)

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As he did before naming a new prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, Pope Francis has asked a bishop to conduct an official visit of the Congregation for Clergy.

In a letter June 7, Bishop Egidio Miragoli of Mondovì, Italy, told the priests of his diocese that Pope Francis had asked him "to undertake a visit, in his name, of the Congregation for Clergy."

The current prefect of the congregation, Cardinal Beniamino Stella, will reach the mandatory retirement age of 80 Aug. 18. He was appointed prefect by Pope Francis in September 2013.

In his letter to the Mondovì priests, Miragoli said that when Francis visited the assembly of the Italian bishops' conference May 24, he told the bishop he wanted him to make the visit as "a favor." Then, June 3, he met the pope at his Vatican residence and was given further details, which the bishop did not share.

Miragoli did tell his priests that the task would require him to meet personally with the congregation staff in Rome beginning June 9 and likely would occupy a significant amount of his time, at least for the month of June.

However, the bishop said, he would maintain his diocesan commitments, including his schedule of confirmations.

In addition to Stella, the congregation has an archbishop serving as secretary charged with general affairs and an archbishop as secretary for seminaries; there is also an undersecretary, 27 priests and four lay employees, according to a Vatican News profile of the congregation published in early May.

The congregation coordinates and promotes the training of candidates for the permanent diaconate and diocesan priesthood and their ongoing formation after ordination. It also handles the requests of diocesan priests and deacons seeking dispensations from their ministerial obligations.

It also promotes the active functioning of presbyteral and parish councils and is involved with safeguarding the use of church assets.

Miragoli, 65, holds a doctorate in canon law from Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University, and worked at seminaries and on church tribunals before being named bishop of Mondovì in 2017.

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