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SILVESTRINI, Achille (1923- )



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Italian cardinal; papal diplomat; Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

ANS – Autograph Note Signed, March 1963, while assigned to the Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs department and as personal secretary to Cardinals Domenico Tardini and Amleto Cicognani. Friendly note in Italian to a fellow prelate.

From 1969-79, Silvestrini served in the Council for Public Affairs of the Church where he was in charge of the section for international organizations., peace, disarmament, and human rights.  He traveled to Moscow with the future Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, secretary of the Council for Public Affairs of the Church, to deliver the instrument of adhesion of the Holy See to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1971. He headed the Holy See’s delegation to the UN Conference in Geneva in 1971 on the peaceful use of nuclear energy and the Conference on compliance with the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1973. That same year he was appointed Under Secretary of the Council for Public Affairs of the Church.

In 1979, Silvestrini was appointed Secretary for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State and assigned a titular see. He worked for the next five years on the renewal of the Lateran Treaty on its 50th anniversary, and signed a revised treaty that reflected the rapid secularization of Italy since the 1960s. He also was involved in a number of other concordats between the Vatican and other countries, most notably in the Falklands War of the early 1980s and the war in Nicaragua.

Created a cardinal in 1991 when he became Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches. Two years later, Silvestrini was named Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Oriental Institute. He retired from those organizations in 2000.

In May 2001, when a consistory of cardinals discussed the role and performance of the Synod of Bishops, he was among the critics.  He called them “monologues without debate or response.”

He was present at the death of Pope St. John Paul II. In the days before the conclave that elected Benedict XVI, he said that the net pope needed to address the relationship b etween the pope and the world’s bishops. He said “more than divisions, there is a feeling of distance. The bishops feel a little far from what is happening in Rome.”

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