Saturday, December 03, 2005

Pope chooses Polish Dominican as theologian of papal household

Pope Benedict XVI has chosen a 54-year-old British-born Polish Dominican to serve as theologian of the papal household. The Vatican announced the appointment of Father Wojciech Giertych Dec. 1. He succeeds 83-year-old Swiss Cardinal Georges Cottier, a Dominican who held the position since 1989. The theologian of the papal household serves as a private theological consultant to the pope, living in an apartment in the Apostolic Palace. He also serves as a consultant to the congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith and for Saints' Causes and to the International Theological Commission. At the time of his nomination, Father Giertych was serving as assistant to the master general of the Dominicans with special responsibility for Dominican schools, universities and the intellectual life of the order's members. He is a member of the Dominican general council in Rome and a professor of moral theology at Dominican-run Angelicum University in Rome. Born in London Sept. 27, 1951, he made his profession as a Dominican in 1976. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1981 and is a member of the Dominicans' Polish province. He earned a master's degree in history and a doctorate in theology at Angelicum University. The theologian speaks Polish, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Russian, the Vatican said. According to the Vatican yearbook, the first theologian of the papal household may have been St. Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers. In 1217, he served as "master of the sacred palace," or papal theologian, under Pope Honorius III. The yearbook said that for a time the master of the sacred palace was in charge of a school of theology directly under the pope's authority. After the school closed, the master was given responsibility for choosing preachers for papal chapels, approving their sermons and examining theological questions. Pope Paul VI gave the job its current title in 1968.

From Britain and Ireland's best-selling Catholic newspaper, The Universe.

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