Two valued members of the Order of Malta have recently received important recognitions in the hierarchy of the Roman Curia. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion, was appointed President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue by H.H. Benedict XVI on 25 June. Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, Conventual Chaplain Grand Cross ad honorem, was made Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches by the Pope on 9 June.
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran was born in Bordeaux in France on 5 April 1943. Ordained priest on 20 September 1969, he studied at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome, which trains the Holy See’s diplomats, and the Pontifical Gregorian University, where he obtained a doctorate in Canon Law. In March 1975 he was assigned to the Apostolic Nunciature in the Dominican Republic, where he remained until 1979 when he was transferred to the Nunciature in the Lebanon. From 1984 to 1988 he was a member of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. In 1988 he was appointed Undersecretary of the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church. In December 1990 he was elected archbishop and appointed Secretary for the Relations with States of Secretariat of State. On 6 January 1991 he was consecrated bishop and Pope John Paul II created him cardinal in the Consistory of 21 October 2003.
On 24 November of the same year he was appointed archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, a position he occupied until his present appointment as president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue. Since March 2006 this important office has been united with that of president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, currently held by Cardinal Paul Poupard. With his new assignment, Cardinal Tauran once again enjoys specific managerial autonomy, indicative of the Holy See’s constant attention to relations with other religions.
Archbishop Leonardo Sandri was born in Buenos Aires on 18 November 1943 to Italian migrant parents. He was ordained priest in 1967 and, after graduating in Canon Law at the Gregorian University, in ’74 he entered the Holy See’s diplomatic service. He became counsellor with the Apostolic Nunciatures of Madagascar and the United States. Appointed regent to the Prefect of the Pontifical House and councillor for General Affairs of Secretariat of State, in 1997 he was elected archbishop. Appointed as apostolic nuncio first to Venezuela and then to Mexico, since September 2000 he has been substitute for General Affairs of Secretariat of State.
With his new appointment, Msgr. Sandri succeeds Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud as prefect of Congregation for the Oriental Churches. The aim of this important institutional mandate, which the Pope directly conferred on him, is to maintain close links between the Holy See and the Catholic oriental churches to encourage their growth and safeguard their rights, keeping alive and intact the liturgical, disciplinary and spiritual heritage of the Catholic Church alongside that of the different eastern Christian traditions.