Pope Francis now counts on the discreet presence of his new, 49-year-old Argentinean secretary, Msgr. Fabiàn Pedacchio Leaniz.
“I want to keep a low profile,” Pope Francis’ second secretary told CNA in a June 27 conversation. “I’m doing my best to attend to the Holy Father, without revealing anything of Pope Francis private life.”
Msgr. Fabiàn Edgardo Marcelo Pedacchio Leaniz leaned out the Apostolic Palace window at the Pope’s side for the first time on May 12, almost exactly two months after Pope Francis’ election.
Shortly after the March 13 event, he moved to the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican hotel where the Pope is living. He began collaborating part time with Pope Francis, while keeping his post of “second class secretary clerk” at the Congregation for the Bishops.
Now, Msgr. Pedacchio Leaniz is Pope Francis’ full-time second secretary, a position through which he aids the Holy Father in his daily life whether it be as a translator or in answering personal correspondence in the name of the Pope.
The first secretary is Msgr. Alfred Xuereb, of Maltese origins, who also served as second secretary to Benedict XVI.
As second secretary, Msgr. Pedacchio will eventually be inserted into the ranks of the Secretariat of State.
The priest has long known the pontiff. When he took his post in the Vatican Curia in 2007, it was under recommendation of the then-Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
An expert in Canon Law, Msgr. Pedacchio Leaniz was secretary of SADEC, the Argentinian society for Canon Law. He also worked at the Ecclesiastical Court of Argentina.
The monsignor was raised in the barrio of Villa Luro, in Buenos Aires. He recounted in an interview with the newspaper “El Periodico del Barrio” in Jan. 2007 that, when he was younger, he never thought about becoming a priest.
In 1983, he decided to study economics and raise a family. But then he met a priest who, Pedacchio Leaniz told El Periodico del Barrio, “grabbed my attention for his joy and openness. Once he asked me if I had ever thought of being a priest.”
Msgr. Pedacchio’s first reply was, “My future is studying, graduating and raising a family.” But he kept thinking about this priest’s proposal, and the following March he entered the seminary.
He was ordained a priest on Dec. 7, 1992.
It was later that then-parish priest Fr. Pedacchio Leaniz began to have a weekly phone conversations with his archbishop, Cardinal Bergoglio, and meet with him more frequently.
In 2007, the Congregation of Bishops asked Cardinal Bergoglio if he could suggest an Argentinian priest for a post within its ranks.
The cardinal chose Msgr. Pedacchio Leaniz, whom the archbishop of Buenos Aires held in great esteem.
Their friendship even led to some speculation about the true role the priest had in the Congregation for the Bishops.
In a Dec. 26, 2011 report, an anonymous informant wrote in the Argentinian portal Intereconomia accusing him of being “a spy of Cardinal Bergoglio in Rome” within the ranks of the Congregation of Bishops.
The report insinuated that Msgr. Pedacchio used to inform Cardinal Bergoglio “of any document or letter that reached the Congregation, sealed documents included.”
The report also asserted that “when the issue at stake is very important, Msgr. Pedacchio also sends faxes to Bergoglio with all the documentation required” by “his boss.”
Msgr. Pedacchio Leaniz is considered by many to be skilled and attentive. “He used to keep eyes and ears open,” said a Vatican clerk who worked in the Congregation for Bishops and spoke to CNA on the condition of anonymity.
His hobbies are varied. He likes opera and music in general, and he has a broad collection of CDs of various genres. He likes soccer and he is a big fan of the Argentinian football team of River Plate. He loves Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ books, and he is a fan of Pedro Almodovar, the famous Spanish film director and Academy Award winner.
In Rome, he used to buy prayer books at a small bookshop in the vicinity of Saint Peter Square.
The booksellers described Msgr. Pedacchio in a June 27 conversation with CNA as “a nice and easygoing person, sometimes even humorous.”