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Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko named archpriest of Rome basilica


Pope Francis greets Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, retired president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, during a late June meeting at the Vatican. Pope Francis has named Cardinal Rylko archpriest of the Rome Basilica of St. Mary Major, the Vatican announced. He replaces Cardinal Santos Abril Castello. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano, handout)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Santos Abril Castello, the Vatican's former vice chamberlain, has retired as archpriest of the Rome Basilica of St. Mary Major, the Vatican announced.

Pope Francis named Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, to the post, according to a Vatican news release Dec. 28.

Cardinal Abril, who turned 81 in September, had served as archpriest of the papal basilica since 2011 after he was named by Pope Benedict XVI to succeed Cardinal Bernard F. Law, former archbishop of Boston.

The Spanish cardinal served for many years as the papal nuncio in several countries, including Bolivia, Cameroon, Argentina, Yugoslavia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Cardinal Rylko, 71, had led the Pontifical Council for the Laity from 2003 until it ceased to exist Sept.1 of this year.

Pope Francis combined the pontifical councils for the laity and for the family, creating a new office dedicated to "the promotion of the life and apostolate of the lay faithful, for the pastoral care of the family and its mission according to God's plan and for the protection and support of human life."

One of his regular duties as archpriest will be to celebrate an annual Mass Aug. 5 in a special service marking the date in 358 when, according to tradition, Mary caused snow to fall on the spot of the basilica to indicate where she wanted a church built in her honor.

It is a popular church event, marked by white flower petals being released from the ceiling of the basilica.

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