Many are aware that Monsignor Alfred Xuereb has worked closely with Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. This tends to arouse a certain curiosity about his relationship with the two Popes. In an interview published in l’Osservatore Romano, Monsignor Xuereb tells about a joke played on him by Pope Francis on his very first day of duty with the Pope.
Monsignor Xuereb says the Pope welcomed him in his study, with a letter in hand and a serious attitude. The Pope said he had a problem, as he had received some unsavoury information about the Monsignor. Xuereb adds that he realised shortly afterward that the Pope was referring to a letter from Pope Benedict to inform him that he could use the services of Monsignor Xuereb. The Pope then asked the Monsignor to help him in his work.
The interview had taken place on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Pope’s pontificate. During the same interview Monsignor Xuereb spoke about his grief at having to leave Pope Benedict, saying it was a difficult time as he had been with him for five years. He admitted that on the day of his departure he had gone to Pope Benedict and cried, stating how difficult it was for him to leave.
Who is Monsignor Alfred Xuereb?
Monsignor Xuereb was born in Rabat, Gozo on 14 October 1958. He studied philosophy and theology at the Gozo Major Seminary. He was ordained at the Gozo Cathedral by Bishop Nikol Cauchi on 26 May 1984, and celebrated his first solemn mass on 8 July of the same year at St George’s Basilica.
Between 1991 and 1995 he had been the personal secretary to the rector of the Lateran Pontifical University, and confessor extraordinary at the Pontifical Major Seminary in Rome.
Between 1995 and 2000 he was an official at the State Secretariat, where he was entrusted with two short missions as Vatican Representative at the Ottawa Apostolic Nunciature.
In 1997 Fr Alfred was given the title of Parish Priest to His Holiness, with the title of Monsignor, and in the year 2000 was appointed Prefecture Official at the Apostolic Palace in the Prefecture Secretariat.
On 11 September 2007 Pope Benedict summoned him for duties in His Holiness’s Particular Secretariat, where Monsignor Xuereb expanded the important role of the Pope’s Second Secretary. On the appointment of Pope Francis in 2013, Monsignor Xuereb became his first Private Secretary.
On 28 November 2013 the Pope appointed Monsignor Xuereb his Delegate on the Pontifical Commission for the Institute of Religious Works (IOR), and on the Pontifical Commission for the Organisation of the Holy See’s Administrative-Economic Structure, with a supervisory role answering directly to the Pope.
On 3 March 2014 Pope Francis appointed Monsignor Xuereb the first Secretary Prelate in the Secretariat for the Economy, a new department within the Roman Curia.
“That they all may be one”
Monsignor Xuereb has chosen the phrase “that they all may be one”, which is taken from the Gospel of St John, Chapter 17, verse 21. These are the words spoken by Jesus in a prayer to the Holy Father at the Last Supper, so that after His death the disciples will remain united in His mystic body, the Church.
The Gozo Diocese had given an interpretation of the Episcopal coat-of-arms of Monsignor Xuereb:
The green hat with 20 tassels and the patriarchal cross with two horizontal arms on the upper part of the coat-of-arms are characteristic of an archiepescopal coat-of-arms.
The MalteseCross is in the first part of the coat-of-arms, recalling Monsignor Xuereb’s Maltese origin.
The red cross is on a gold background – the colour traditionally associated with faith.
On the sides at the upper part are two symbols on a red background, taken from the coats-of-arms of Pope Benedict and Pope Francis – the shell and the sun of the Company of Jesus.
TVM2 se jxandar il-konsagrazzjoni ta’ Mons. Alfred Xuereb