The appointment of Father Yoannis Lahzi Gaid as a personal secretary is an intriguing appointment by the Pope. Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa gives us the details:
Pope Francis has a new personal secretary. His name is Yoannis Lahzi Gaid. He is an Egyptian priest of the Coptic rite and a member of the Vatican diplomatic service. A figure with an unusual résumé. The author, in the past, of statements very critical in regard to Islam.
Gaid is taking the place of the Maltese Alfred Xuereb, whom the pontiff inherited a year ago from Benedict XVI and has now destined for the position of prelate secretary of the newly created secretariat for the economy. He is joining the pope’s other personal secretary, the Argentine Fabián Pedacchio Leániz, who is also staying in his role as an official of the congregation for bishops.
The selection of Gaid, as of personal secretaries in general, is not a formal appointment and so was not made public in an official manner. The news was broken by the website Vatican Insider last week.
Born in 1975, Gaid attended the pontifical ecclesiastical academy and in 2007 entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See. Initially destined for the nunciature of Brazzaville in Congo, he remained there for three years. In March of 2010 he was transferred to that of Iraq and Jordan. But his stay there was very brief. In July of 2011, in fact, he was destined for the pontifical nunciature of New Delhi, but before the transfer to India could take place he was kept back in the first section of the secretariat of state, in an office of slight importance, that of honorary awards, usually reserved for non-diplomatic personnel.
But Francis has been able to appreciate him both as his fellow neighbor at the residence of Santa Marta and as an interpreter during meetings with Arabic speakers. Gaid is also the prelate who gives the greetings in the language of the Quran during the Wednesday general audiences.
The admirers of the pope’s new secretary have included his fellow Egyptian Magdi Cristiano Allam, a Muslim journalist and writer who converted to Christianity and was baptized in Saint Peter’s by Benedict XVI on March 22, 2008. For some time has been very critical of a Church that in his view is too yielding toward Islam.
Go here to read the rest. When it comes to Islam the policy of the Church since Vatican II has largely been a combination of wishful thinking, distortion of what is taught by Islam and, frankly, fear. Pope Francis now has a personal secretary who can give him an unvarnished view of Islam, which is at least a baby step in the right direction.