The dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. / Luxerendering/Shutterstock.
The Vatican said Monday that a commission overseeing reform of the office managing St. Peter’s Basilica had completed its work.
The Holy See press office announced 29 March that the reform of the Fabric of St. Peter was ready to go and would be implemented at the will of the office’s new president, Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, O.F.M. Conv.
The Fabric of St. Peter is the office responsible for the conservation and maintenance of St. Peter’s Basilica and the surrounding area.
Gambetti, who was last month appointed to the triple position of archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, vicar general for Vatican City State, and president of the Fabric of St. Peter, started in his new roles this week.
In June 2020, Pope Francis named a commissioner to reform the administration of the Fabric, where documents and computers were seized at the request of judicial authorities.
The decision to appoint a commissioner was made following a report by the Vatican’s auditor general, which is responsible for monitoring offices of the Roman Curia and Vatican City State for financial corruption.
The pope gave retired nuncio Archbishop Mario Giordana the task of “updating the statutes, clarifying the administration and reorganizing the administrative and technical offices” of the Fabric of St. Peter, together with the help of a commission.
The Holy See press office said 29 March that the statutes were finished and the work of Giordana and the commission had ended.
“In these nine months, in addition to preparing the new norms, [commission members] have dedicated themselves to the reorganization of the administrative and technical offices of the Fabric,” the statement noted.
As the head of the Fabric of St. Peter, Gambetti will be responsible for the statute’s application.
The Franciscan friar, who was elevated to the position of cardinal in November 2020, was general custos, or head, of the convent attached to the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi from 2013 to 2020.
At 55 years old, Gambetti is the third youngest member of the College of Cardinals.
The archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica is in charge of the worship and pastoral activity in the basilica. The position has a long history and has always been assigned to a cardinal. Since 1991, the archpriest of the basilica has served also as the pope’s vicar for the Vatican City State.
The archpriest is one of the pope’s closest collaborators. He manages and organizes the worship at the most emblematic church in the Catholic world, with 45 altars and 11 chapels, plus additional chapels below the basilica in the Vatican Grottoes.
Earlier this month, a letter was posted on the sacristy door of St. Peter’s Basilica restricting the celebration of individual Masses in the upper part of the basilica.
The letter from the first section of the Vatican Secretariat of State was not addressed to Gambetti as archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, but to Archbishop Mario Giordana, the then extraordinary commissioner of the Fabric of St. Peter.
The changes have prompted responses from five retired cardinals, who have expressed the hope that Pope Francis will reverse the decision.