Pope Francis on Wednesday named the 76-year-old Bishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga as president of the Governorate of Vatican City State.
Vérgez, a member of the Legionaries of Christ, succeeds the 78-year-old Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello as head of government of Vatican City and as president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, a legislative body.
The Holy See press office said on Sept. 8 that Vérgez would take up his new role on Oct. 1, the day of Bertello’s 79th birthday, and that the pope had conferred on him the personal title of archbishop.
Vérgez was born in Salamanca, Spain, in 1945. He made his perpetual profession with the Legionaries of Christ in 1965 and was ordained a priest in 1969.
He studied philosophy and theology at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University and obtained a diploma from the School of Archives at the Vatican’s Secret Archives.
He began working for the Vatican in 1972, at the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
He was then transferred to the Pontifical Council for the Laity in 1984, before becoming the head of the Holy See’s internet office 10 years later. He served there until becoming head of the telecommunications office in 2008.
He was appointed secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State in 2013, serving under Bertello, who was named president in 2011.
Pope Francis ordained Vérgez as a bishop on Nov. 15, 2013. In his homily at the ordination Mass, the pope entrusted Vérgez with “the pastoral care of Vatican employees,” asking him to be “a father and a brother … with true love and tenderness.”
In October 2020, the pope selected Vérgez as a member of the Vatican’s Commission for Confidential Matters. The commission is led by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, a former Legionary of Christ who is prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life.
The commission oversees the process of awarding public contracts of the Holy See and Vatican City State that require a degree of confidentiality.
Pope Francis published new laws governing the administration of Vatican City State in 2018.
The Vatican also announced on Sept. 8 that the pope had chosen Fr. Andrés Gabriel Ferrada Moreira as secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy.
The Chilean priest, who will also become an archbishop, succeeds the French Archbishop Joël Mercier, who retired this month at the age of 76 after serving as secretary since 2015.
Before he began working at the Vatican in 2018, Ferrada testified in a civil court in support of victims of Fernando Karadima, an influential priest in Chile who was dismissed from the clerical state in 2018.
Vatican City, an enclave within Rome, is the world’s smallest state by area and population.
The head of state is the pope, who delegates legislative authority to the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, which drafts the state’s laws and regulations.
The pope delegates executive authority to the Governorate of Vatican City State, which oversees matters such as policing, personnel, and maintaining records.