Lorenzo Baldisseri

His Eminence
Lorenzo Baldisseri
Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops
Appointed 21 September 2013
Predecessor Nikola Eterovic
Other posts
Ordination 29 June 1963
by Ugo Camozzo
Consecration 7 March 1992
by Angelo Sodano
Created Cardinal 22 February 2014
by Pope Francis
Rank Cardinal-Deacon
Personal details
Birth name Lorenzo Baldisseri
Born (1940-09-29) 29 September 1940
Barga, Italy
Nationality Italian
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post
  • Titular Archbishop of Diocletiana (1992-2014)
  • Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti (1992-1995)
  • Apostolic Nuncio to Paraguay (1995-1999)
  • Apostolic Nuncio to India (1999-2002)
  • Apostolic Nuncio to Nepal (1999-2002)
  • Apostolic Nuncio to Brazil (2002-2012)
  • Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops (2012-2013)
  • Secretary of the Sacred College of Cardinals (2012-2014)
Alma mater University of Perugia, Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, Pontifical Lateran University
Motto Itinere Laete Servire Domino
(Serve the Lord Joyfully)
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}
Styles of
Lorenzo Baldisseri
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

Lorenzo Baldisseri (born 29 September 1940) is an Italian cardinal. He has been the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops since 21 September 2013. He previously served as Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops after more than twenty years in the diplomatic service of the Holy See.


Baldisseri was born in Barga, in the province of Lucca, Italy, on 29 September 1940 and ordained on 29 June 1963. He studied at the Pontifical Lateran University and the University of Perugia from 1970 to 1973. He earned a doctorate in canon law, with a thesis entitled: "The Nunciature in Tuscany". In 1971 he entered the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.[1] He was assigned to Guatemala as part of the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See and served in many other areas of the world over the next two decades. In 1992 Pope John Paul II appointed him Titular Archbishop of Diocletiana and Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti. Later assignments included Paraguay (1995-1999), India (2000-2002) and Brazil (2002-2012).

Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops

He was appointed secretary of the Congregation for Bishops on 11 January 2012. He served as secretary of the College of Cardinals from 7 March 2012 to 28 January 2014.[2] In that role he served as secretary of the 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis. At the end of that conclave, Pope Francis gave Baldisseri his zuchetto, a traditional sign that the new pope would soon make the secretary a cardinal.[3][4]

In January 2013, he reported on Pope Benedict XVI's meetings with the world's bishops. Known as ad limina visits, they are supposed to occur every five years. Baldisseri said that it had taken the Pope more than seven years to complete the full cycle.[5]

In early September 2013, Baldisseri was part of a group of 30 officials of the Roman Curia who met with Pope Francis to offer their views and concerns with respect to his proposed reorganization of the Vatican's administrative apparatus.[6]

General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops

Pope Francis named Baldisseri the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops on 21 September 2013.[7] His central responsibility was to organize the synod operations according to the pope's vision, "to radically revamp its working methods".[8][9]

In October 2013 Archbishop Baldisseri asked national bishops conferences around the world to conduct a wide-ranging poll of Catholics asking for their opinions on church teachings on contraception, same-sex marriage and divorce.[10] Baldisseri asked the episcopal conferences to distribute the poll "immediately as widely as possible to deaneries and parishes so that input from local sources can be received." The poll, which comes in a questionnaire sent to national bishops' conferences globally in preparation for a Vatican synod on the family next October, was the first time the church's central hierarchy has asked for such input from grass-roots Catholics since the establishment of the synod system following the Second Vatican Council.[11]

In a May 2014 newspaper interview, Baldisseri said it was time to update Church doctrine in connection with divorce and people who are in civil partnerships: "The Church is not timeless, she lives amidst the vicissitudes of history and the Gospel must be known and experienced by people today," Cardinal Baldisseri says. "It is in the present that the message should be, with all respect for the integrity from whom the message has been received. We now have two synods to treat this complex theme of the family and I believe that these dynamics in two movements will allow a more adequate response to the expectations of the people".[12]

In an interview Cardinal Baldisseri said that the structure of the upcoming extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family will be shorter than a usual synod and will include new rules aimed at helping the bishops really grapple with the issues together, said the general secretary of the synod. "We want a frank, open, civilized discussion,".[13] Along with Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi, Baldisseri served as the public voice of the synod, explaining its procedures and the ways its format departed from those of previous synods.[14][15]

The topics raised in the questionnaire included contraception, divorce and remarriage, same-sex marriage, premarital sex and in vitro fertilization. Some responses questioned the church's teaching or encouraged greater understanding of people who cannot always live up to that teaching. Cardinal Baldisseri said that the bishops "must recognize that the faithful perceive the truth" about the Gospel and its values and their input cannot be ignored. "But the bishops have the responsibility and authority to discern ways to apply the constant teaching of the church," he said. The big change from past synods is that the voting members of the extraordinary synod will be asked to submit their presentations in writing at least two weeks before the meeting opens, the cardinal said."This is not to limit the discussion, but to help organize it". The report opening the synod, which used to be a rephrasing of the synod working document, now will be a first summary of the bishops' submissions, he said.[13]

At a 3 October 2014 press conference, when asked how the Synod on the Family would address the topic of divorced and remarried Catholics, he said "The Synod is about family, not divorce. Let's not monopolize it with Western problems. We need to present the beauty of the family to the world" and "we want to walk and view the global challenges to find an answer in the light of the Gospel".[16] He served as the synod's general secretary.[17]

In September 2015, having reached the age of 75, he submitted his resignation as Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops to Pope Francis.


Pope Francis raised Baldisseri to the rank of Cardinal-Deacon on 22 February 2014 and assigned him to the Sant’Anselmo all'Aventino.

In December 2013 he was appointed as a member of the Congregation for Bishops[18] and that appointment was confirmed in May 2014 after he became a cardinal.[19]

In September 2014 he was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

See also


  1. "Lorenzo Baldisseri". Osservatore Romano. 22 February 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  2. "Rinunce e Nomine - Nomina del Segretario del Collegio Cardinalizio" (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  3. "Ex-embaixador da Santa Sé no Brasil é o primeiro cardeal nomeado por Francisco" (in Portuguese). O Estado de S. Paulo. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  4. "Dom Lorenzo Baldisseri recebe solideu cardinalício" (in Portuguese). Radio Vaticano (Portuguese Section). Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  5. Wooden, Cindy (10 December 2013). "Pope Benedict completes 'ad limina' visits with world's bishops". National Catholic Reporter. Catholic News Service. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  6. Rocca, Francis X. (10 September 2013). "Pope hears officials' input on reforming Vatican bureaucracy". National Catholic Reporter. Catholic News Service. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  7. Coday, Denis (21 September 2013). "Vatican announces curial appointments". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  8. O'Connell, Gerard (8 March 2014). "After a conclave that demanded reform, a year of 'fresh air'". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  9. Mickens, Robert (27 October 2014). "Next on Pope Francis' agenda: Curia reform, personnel moves, a revamped synod". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2016. Pope Francis is believed to be working with the man he appointed as secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, in a continuing effort to transform the mechanisms and procedures of this collegial body in the run-up to its next assembly in October 2015.
  10. "Synod of Bishops: Preparatory Document". Holy See. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  11. McElwee, Joshua J. (10 December 2013). "Vatican: Bishops must consult 'grass roots' on family synod". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  12. Pentin, Edward (7 May 2014). "Synod Secretary General Wants Change in Church's Teaching on Marriage". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  13. 1 2 Changes in synod process designed to increase discussion, cardinal says
  14. McElwee, Joshua J. (2 October 2015). "New process for Synod of Bishops aims at allowing more dialogue". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  15. McElwee, Joshua J. (3 October 2015). "Vatican: Synod will be 'original and innovative,' but with limited public information". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  16. Harris, Elise (3 October 2014). "Vatican official says synod is 'about family, not divorce'". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  17. McElwee, Joshua J. (31 October 2013). "Vatican asks for parish-level input on synod document". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  18. Allen Jr., John L. (16 December 2013). "Wuerl named to bishops' panel; Burke not confirmed". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  19. Wooden, Cindy (22 May 2014). "Pope assigns new cardinals to congregations, councils". National Catholic Reporter. Catholic News Service. Retrieved 20 November 2016.

External Links

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Giuseppe Leanza
Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti
15 January 1992–6 April 1995
Succeeded by
Christophe Pierre
Preceded by
José Sebastián Laboa Gallego
Apostolic Nuncio to Paraguay
6 April 1995–19 June 1999
Succeeded by
Antonio Lucibello
Preceded by
Georg Zur
as Apostolic Pro-Nuncio
Apostolic Nuncio to India
19 June 1999–12 November 2002
Succeeded by
Pedro López Quintana
Apostolic Nuncio to Nepal
23 June 1999–12 November 2002
Preceded by
Alfio Rapisarda
Apostolic Nuncio to Brazil
12 November 2002–11 January 2012
Succeeded by
Giovanni d’Aniello
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Manuel Monteiro de Castro
Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops
11 January 2012–21 September 2013
Succeeded by
Ilson de Jesus Montanari
Secretary of the College of Cardinals
7 March 2012–28 January 2014
Preceded by
Nikola Eterović
Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops
21 September 2013–present
Preceded by
Fortunato Baldelli
Cardinal Deacon of Sant'Anselmo all'Aventino
22 February 2014-present
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