VATICAN CITY, MARCH 1, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has appointed Cardinal Attilio Nicora papal legate for the basilicas of St. Francis and St. Mary of the Angels in Assisi, Italy.
The Vatican’s recent announcement of the appointment expressed the Pope’s desire to strengthen the Assisi Franciscans’ bonds with the Apostolic See.
Three months ago, the Holy Father introduced new norms for the two basilicas: a papal legate as a sign of the link of the Apostolic See with Assisi, and the jurisdiction of the local bishop over the two major Franciscan churches to harmonize their activities with the diocesan pastoral program.
The first basilica — which houses the remains of St. Francis — is entrusted to the Conventual Franciscans. The second basilica — in whose interior is the Portiuncula chapel — is entrusted to the Franciscan Order of the Friars Minor.
The Holy Father modified the juridical subjection of these churches in an apostolic letter issued on his own initiative.
Since then, the bishop of Assisi-Nocera has had jurisdiction over churches and religious houses in regard to the pastoral activities carried out by the Conventual Franciscans of the Basilica of St. Francis and by the Friars Minor at the other basilica.
Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino, 57, has been named head of the Assisi-Nocera Diocese.
Benedict XVI also established a papal legate assigned to the Basilica of St. Francis and the adjacent Sacred Convent, as well as to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels.
That task now corresponds to Cardinal Nicora, 68. He is also president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See.
The cardinal does not have jurisdiction over the mentioned Franciscan sites. But, the Pope’s letter said, “he will be able to impart the papal blessing in the celebrations over which he will preside on the occasion of major liturgical solemnities.”