Layman Appointed to Plan Papal Trips

Alberto Gasbarri, a Vatican Radio Official

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 20, 2005 ( Benedict XVI has appointed Alberto Gasbarri, the administrative director and acting technical director of Vatican Radio, to plan his apostolic trips.

The appointment was made public Oct. 14 by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, in a letter sent to the heads of the Holy See dicasteries and various Vatican authorities.

Gasbarri is the first layman to be appointed to this prestigious post.

The Pope’s decision relieves Bishop Renato Boccardo from this responsibility, who for the last few months has been serving as secretary-general of Vatican City State.

Gasbarri had been involved with the preparation of papal trips since 1982, first assisting the future Cardinal Roberto Tucci and then Bishop Boccardo.

The layman will be coordinating the Holy Father’s trips with apostolic nuncios, bishops and the authorities in each country.

In an interview on Polish public television, Benedict XVI expressed the hope of traveling to Poland next June.

The Turkish government has invited the Pope to visit next year; such a trip would likely involve a meeting with Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I.

The Archdiocese of Valencia confirmed the Pontiff’s intention to attend the World Meeting of Families, to be held in that Spanish city next July.

The Latin American bishops’ council has reported that the Pope intends to open CELAM’s general conference in Brazil in May 2007.

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