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Rome Reports

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Card. Mauro Gambetti is new archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica has a new archpriest. He is 55-year-old Franciscan Mauro Gambetti. The pope made him a cardinal last Nov. 28.

Until that moment he had been the General Custodian of the Sacred Convent in Assisi.

Now he will replace Card. Angelo Comastri as archpriest of the basilica; president of the Fabric of St. Peter, which coordinates public contracts for works in the basilica; and the pope’s vicar for Vatican City.

It’s a more delicate role than it seems.

Angelo Comastri is 77 years old. In keeping with the Vatican Curia’s tradition, he put his position at the pope’s disposal when he turned 75.

Card. Comastri was among the last cardinals John Paul II appointed, in February of 2005.

He could be seen with the pope at the last Urbi et Orbi blessing on Christmas, and at all the ceremonies the pope has celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica throughout the pandemic.

Nevertheless, he’s had little decision-making power since July. That’s because the pope decided to appoint a commissioner to lead the so-called Fabric of St. Peter, to investigate irregularities in the awarding of public contracts for works within the basilica.

Pope Francis has complete faith in Card. Angelo Comastri, who has also written many books on spirituality.

Now it falls to Card. Mauro Gambetti to investigate how that money was spent, to set order and to determine whether someone took advantage of the cardinal’s good will. In any case it will be difficult to fool the new boss, a friar with a background in mechanical engineering.

Javier Romero / JMB