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Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri - Witness Interview

Sunday October 16, 2016 - Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri was born in Barga, Italy and ordained a priest in 1963. He studied at the Vatican's school for training diplomats, the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, and entered the Vatican diplomatic corps in 1973. Ordained archbishop in 1992, he served as nuncio for nearly 40 years in Brazil, Nepal and India, Paraguay and Haiti. He also served in Guatemala, Japan, France and Zimbabwe. In 2012 Pope Benedict appointed him secretary of the Congregation for Bishops. An accomplished pianist, he studied at an Italian conservatory near Florence as a young man and at Rome's Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music. When then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was elected pontiff March 13, 2013 by his fellow cardinals in the Sistine Chapel, then-Archbishop Baldisseri was serving as secretary of the conclave. In his role as secretary, the former papal diplomat was among the first people to greet and pledge allegiance to the new pope before the pontiff presented himself to the world waiting outside. Baldisseri told journalists: "When I came before him, I knelt. And it was at that moment that the pope placed a hand upon my head and then eased onto it the red cardinal's zucchetto that had belonged to the new pope.” He said the newly elected pope told him, "You are a half-cardinal!"

Cardinal Baldisseri has been a part of some of Pope Francis' key preparatory meetings and discussions on the reform of the Roman Curia. Pope Francis appointed him to head the Synod Secretariat in September 2013 and in that capacity, Baldisseri has helped to reshape and reorient the Synod of Bishops. Baldisseri presided over the historic Synods on the Family in 2014 and 2015 which brought forth the Apostolic Exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia.” This exclusive interview took place in the offices of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican on September 1, 2016.