US Priest Named Close Collaborator to Pope

Oklahoma Native to Coordinate Embassies, Nuncios

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 17, 2009 ( Benedict XVI appointed Oklahoma-born Monsignor Peter Wells as assessor for the Secretariat of State’s Section for General Affairs.

A Vatican communiqué announced the appointment Thursday of Monsignor Wells, 46, who had already been serving in the general affairs section, as head of the English desk.

In this previous post, he was responsible for overseeing all material and correspondence in English sent to and coming from the Holy See.

As well, the monsignor was one of two others allowed to be present at the July 10 private meeting between Benedict XVI and U.S. President Barack Obama.

On the Web page of his home diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a statement from Bishop Edward Slattery acknowledged the appointment with congratulations for the new assessor.

The prelate described the monsignor’s «competence and dedication,» and stated that through him, God «has blessed both the local and the universal Church.»

Peter Wells was ordained in 1991 after studying at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana, the North American College in Rome, the Gregorian University and the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.

The monsignor also holds a diploma in international law and a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Ecclesial Academy in Rome.

He worked in the Vatican embassy in Nigeria for a few years before being named to the Secretariat of State in 2002.

As assessor, Monsignor Wells will work with the section’s head, or «substitute,» Archbishop Fernando Filoni, under the Pope’s secretary of state and close collaborator, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

The assessor position is akin to the deputy chief of staff, in this section responsible for organizing activities of the Roman curia, overseeing the Vatican Press Office and L’Osservatore Romano, publishing official communications, maintaining papal documents, overseeing embassies to the Holy See and the nuncios worldwide.

Other appointments

Monsignor Wells will replace Monsignor Gabriele Giordano Caccia, who was named apostolic nuncio to Lebanon, and was elevated to the dignity of archbishop.

Gabriele Caccia was born in Milan, Italy in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1983. He is replacing Archbishop Luigi Gatti, who was named apostolic nuncio to Greece after the former nuncio retired.

The Holy Father also named Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó, 68, as the secretary general of the Governor’s Office for Vatican City State.

The prelate, formerly apostolic nuncio and delegate for pontifical deputations, is replacing Bishop Renato Boccardo, 56.

Bishop Boccardo, a native of Sant’Ambrogio di Torino, Italy, was appointed as archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia, Italy.

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