Archbishop Fortunato Frezza on the day he received his episcopal ordination in the Vatican Basilica -.
The notes of the pipe organ at the altar of the Chair sound festive at the end of the Eucharistic celebration during which Monsignor Fortunato Frezza received episcopal ordination. The apse part of St. Peter’s Basilica is full of faithful, despite being a very hot Saturday in July. And this testifies to the affection for the elderly new bishop who in just over a month will receive the cardinal’s hat from the hands of Pope Francis.
Monsignor Frezza, in fact, is one of the cardinals announced by the Pontiff on 29 May last.
The Consistory is set for August 27, but yesterday the 80-year-old canon of the Vatican Basilica chapter (he celebrated his birthday on February 6 this year, having been born in 1942) became archbishop due to the imposition of the hands of the cardinal Mauro Gambetti, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica and vicar general for the Vatican City. Co-consecrating Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, substitute of the Secretariat of State, and Jesús Esteban Catalá Ibáñez, Bishop of Malaga.
During the liturgical celebration, which took place in an atmosphere of intense prayer and enriched by valuable songs, Gambetti gave the homily, often addressing Frezza directly and recalling, among other things, his important biblical studies. The cardinal, in fact, took his cue from the various experiences of service to the Church, carried out in the course of his life by the now next cardinal, to outline the figure of Frezza and his double love for the Bible and the faithful. From this point of view, the period from 1971 to 1984 is emblematic, when the new bishop was at the same time parish priest of Sipicciano (diocese of Viterbo) and, at the same time, taught Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Gregorian University as an assistant.
Pastoral care and study, therefore. Cardinal Gambetti therefore invited him, even in this new phase of life, to be a pastor who puts himself at the service of all and who proclaims the Word. And here he referred in particular to the distinguished biblical Frezza, urging him to always and again refer to the Bible, “a book that you loved so much – underlined in particular the cardinal archpriest of the Vatican Basilica -, on which you prayed so much and which guided and will continue to guide your life ”. Also referring to the Bible is the episcopal motto: Open the scriptures by speaking.
At the end of the celebration, Monsignor Frezza, visibly moved, thanked the Pope for the trust placed in him, Cardinal Gambetti and all those present. He also wanted to send a thought to his parents and “my little brother” who are dead, but present in spiritual communion. Then, after Mass, some of those present even joked with him a little about the fact that he was chaplain for Roma Calcio for a long time.
The celebration was attended, among others, by Cardinals Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General Emeritus of the Synod of Bishops, Fernando Filoni, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, and his predecessor in the same position Edwin Frederick O’Brien, Archbishops Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, Lazzaro You Heung-sik, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, who will also receive the purple on August 27, in addition to the bishop of Viterbo (native diocese of Frezza), Lino Fumagalli.
Among the faithful were also present the mayor of Trevi (province of Frosinone and diocese of Anagni-Alatri) Silvio Grazioli, the parish priest don Pierluigi Nardi and don Rosario Vitagliano, parish priest in Alatri but originally from Trevi, together with a large delegation of lay people. . Treba (i.e. Trevi nel Lazio) is in fact the titular diocese assigned to Archbishop Frezza. The mayor also invited Frezza to visit the town, possibly after the consistory at the end of August.
The next cardinal has been a priest since 1966. The following year he obtained a licentiate in theology from the Gregorian and in 1977 a degree in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute, with a thesis on the book of the prophet Micah. He also worked in the Secretariat of the Synod, becoming its undersecretary.
(With the collaboration of Igor Traboni)