Longtime Secretary to Cardinal Ratzinger Gets Vatican Post

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 25, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II appointed Monsignor Josef Clemens, former personal secretary of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.



Monsignor Clemens, who will be ordained a bishop, will succeed Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, whom the Pope appointed last month as president of the same Vatican organization. The Vatican press office announced the new appointment today.

Born in the German city of Siegen in 1947, Josef Clemens was ordained a priest in Rome in 1975. He received a doctorate in moral theology from the Gregorian University in 1984.

He was Cardinal Ratzinger's private secretary from 1984 to February 2003, when he was named undersecretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

The Pontifical Council for the Laity is concerned with "the apostolate of the laity, that is, their participation in the life and mission of the Church, whether as members of associations for the apostolate or as private individuals," the Pontifical Yearbook explains.

The council advises the Pope on matters relating to the approval, by the Holy See, of lay movements and communities. Since 1984 it has assisted the Pope in the organization of World Youth Days.