Archive for the ‘Consistory 2013’ Category

Plenty of notice


Previous thoughts that a consistory to create new cardinals would be called in June or December of this year by either Pope Benedict or Pope Francis will now not occur.

Yesterday, Fr Frederico Lombardi SJ, director of the Press Office of the Holy See has stated that there will be a consistory on 22 February 2014, the Feast of the Chair of St Peter.

Rocco writes that “Lombardi detailed a full plate of events surrounding the first gathering of the Pope’s “Senate” since the Conclave. Bookended by the third meeting of Francis’ “Gang of Eight” and another summit of the (newly-)all-important Synod Council, Francis will maintain the tradition begun by his predecessor and hold a consultation day with the entire College on the eve of the Consistory, its focus reportedly centered on the reform of the Curia. Far from the usual means of announcement – a declaration by the Pope himself either at the Wednesday Audience or Sunday Angelus a month before the Consistory date – the date was given this far in advance to allow the nearly 200 red-hats to work the week into their schedules. Though the speculation of prior Consistory dates had largely panned out, far-flung cardinals have long complained that the lack of a formal confirmation until weeks before had the effect of holding their calendars hostage”.

Rocco notes that there will be 14 electoral slots available by February. However, he is right to point out that “the Pope is perfectly free to dispense from the limit”. Whether this is a hint that Pope Francis will exceed the limit of 14 to return the Electoral College to the limit imposed by Paul VI or not.

Interestingly, Rocco goes on to mention “As for the composition of the new intake, it’s fair to say that – with a “Pope of Surprises” who’s shown little reluctance about setting his own course – all bets are off. Still, it would be little shock if the first non-European Pope in a millennium started into an effort to significantly shift the geographic makeup of the College, which has habitually seen his home-continent (which contains half the world’s Catholics) and much of the global church’s emerging standard-bearers significantly underrepresented. For example, despite boasting the bulk of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, Latin Americans only comprised 12 percent of the electors at the March Conclave, its 15 voting cardinals just one more than the North American bloc from a church less than one fifth of its southern neighbour’s size”.

He goes on to add “several ops have indicated that one means Francis intends to use to achieve a geographic reboot is a significant curtailing of the red hats given to Vatican officials, along with a gradual drop of the “cardinalatial sees” in Europe. Taken together, the Curial and Continent blocs accounted for 67 of the 111 electors in March, or precisely three-fifths of the Conclave, just 11 shy of the requisite two-thirds margin needed to produce a Pope. Among the few bankable names on the coming biglietto – at least, at this point – are but three Curial officials: the new Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the CDF chief Gerhard Ludwig Müller, and Francis’ hand-picked head of the newly-amplified Synod, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri”.

What this means in pratice is obviously unclear. It would be safe to say that all Congregational prefects would get the red, but it is uncertain as to whether the presidents of the Pontifical Councils will get it in the future. As for the reduction of red in Europe it will be interesting, to say the least, how far this will extend to Italy which has the most electors of any country. This is both through curial heads and residential bishops. Currently, Palermo, Naples, Turin, Florence, Rome (as vicar general of Rome), Genoa, Milan and Venice all traditionally get cardinals. At the moment only Turin and Venice are without the red. Although Cardinal Romeo of Palermo is 75 and will need to be replaced it is uncertain as to whether his successor will get the red.  There are naturally some questions as to what Francis will do to the rest of Europe. Germany, Spain, Poland and France also have a number of cardinal-archbishops.

There are a slew of candidates, as usual. These include Jean-Louis Bruguès, O.P., archivist & librarian of the Holy Roman Church, but notably there are a number of candidates from Latin America, Sergio da Rocha of Brasília, Oscar Vian Morales SDB of Guatemala, Ricardo Ezzati Andrello SDB, of Santiago de Chile, Orani João Tempesta, O. Cist.,  of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro and Murilo Ramos Krieger, S.C.J, of São Salvador da Bahia.

Rocco goes on to note “On the residential front, meanwhile, Bergoglio’s successor as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Mario Poli, especially after his election dropped Argentina’s number of resident voters to zero. Yet even more notably, as part of an expected increase of the College’s Eastern presence, both protocol and personal ties would see a seat going to the head of the largest Oriental body in communion with Rome – the major-archbishop of the 6 million-member Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who at 43 would become the youngest cardinal elevated in the last century”.

He ends “for the sake of i Gammarelli and the arrangement of the pilgrimages – don’t be surprised one bit to see the designates’ names emerge well before January”.


Heads start to roll under Francis

Following on quickly from the appointment of a new secretary of State, Pope Francis has appointed a slew of curia officials today.
Firstly, he appointed Archbishop Joseph Di Noia, O.P. who had been serving as Vice-President of Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” as Adjunct Secretary of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith where he had worked as Under-Secretary for many years previously. Archbishop Di Noia was only appointed to Ecclesia Dei in June 2012 having served for three years as secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship.
Francis retired Manuel Cardinal Monterio de Castro, 75, as major penitentiary of Apostolic Penitentiary and appointed Mauro Cardinal Piacenza who had been serving as prefect of Congregation for Clergy. The move is an effective demotion for Cardinal Piacenza who was close, theologically and liturgically, to Cardinal Bertone and Pope Benedict. It was thought previously that Cardinal Monterio de Castro would be replaced by Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri.
In his place Francis has named the diplomat and until now president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, Archbishop Beniamino Stella, 72, who was given the post at Clergy partly as a result of the care of priestly formation he took at the PEA. Stella was replaced by Msgr. Giampiero Gloder, 55, who was at the same time appointed Titular Archbishop of Telde.
At the same time Francis appointed Bishop Jorge Carlos Patrón Wong of Papantla as secretary for Seminaries of the Congregation for Clergy and at the same time archbishop ad personam.
In what is a more important move Archbishop Jean-Claude Périsset was given early retirement, by a few months in his post as apostolic nuncio to Germany and ususually Archbishop Nikola Eterović, 62, was appointed in his place. He had previously been serving as Secretary General of Synod of Bishops. All previous occupants of the post recieved the red hat after their service but the fact that Archbishop Eterović was dispatched to Germany probalby says more about him than the post of Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops. In his place Francis appointed Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri.
He had been serving as secretary of Congregation for Bishops from January 2012 but no replacement was named at the Congregation. It would not be hard to believe that Baldisseri will become cardinal secretary-general at the next consistory, whenever that will be.
Rocco recounts how, the Synod of Bishops has become far more prominet under Pope Francis. He notes that after the 11th September attacks Cardinal Egan, who was relator general returned to New York, then Cardinal Bergoglio took over Egan’s job as relator general of the synod for the remaining three weeks.
Rocco adds that “Even so, all of a sudden, the surprise turn at the Synod became Bergoglio’s “launchpad” into the spotlight of the global church. In the gathering’s wake, the Argentine’s performance was deemed so effective that his name would start being floated for key offices in the Curia – a place where he reputedly said “I would die” were he called to work in it.  Of course, that wouldn’t be the end of the buzz – were it not for his stand-in role in the Aula, the Argentine’s name would’ve attracted far less recognition (and, hence, been a non-starter) at the 2005 Conclave… and without Bergoglio’s showing at the last election – burnished by the amplified status which resulted from it – his emergence eight years later as B16’s successor simply never would’ve happened”.
He goes on to mention that “the Synod has accordingly been at the forefront of the first Pope Francis’ mind on the impending Curial reform. On June’s feast of Saints Peter and Paul – by tradition, the nonpareil celebration of centralized papal authority – the pontiff’s veering off-script to call the church ‘forward on the path of synodality’ sent shockwaves through the old guard he inherited just days after the Pope declared that “we trust” (read: “I intend”) that his Synod ‘will experience further development to ever more aid the dialogue and collaboration among the bishops and, with them, the Bishop of Rome.'”
Also today Francis confirmed the officials in the CDF, and Peoples. There had been previous rumours that Cardinal Filoni would be appointed to replace Cardinal Romeo in Palermo but this now does not look likely. Other dicasteries to be confirmed are most of the curia, Catholic Education, Oriental Churches, Bishops as well as a host of others. More reforms are expected after the meeting with Francis and his 8 cardinals in October.

Secretary Parolin


On 31 August 2013, Pope Francis accepted the age induced resignation of Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, SDB as secretary of State to His Holiness appointing Archbishop Pietro Parolin, 58, who had been serving as apostolic nuncio to Venezuela since 2009 in his stead. Parolin will formally take office on Tuesday 15 October.  Unusually, Archishop Parolin was appointed secretary of State and not, as is custom for non cardinals pro-secretary. Parolin was from 2002 until his appointment to Venezuela in 2009 the Under-Secretary for Relations with States.

Rocco writes that Parolin takes over from Cardinal Bertone, “the formidable “Vice-Pope” of Benedict XVI – whose ascent to the post in 2006 without any experience in Vatican diplomacy caused apoplectic fits among the natives and created an enduring set of institutional grudges that arguably sabotaged Joseph Ratzinger’s pontificate”.

Crucially Rocco adds that “an even more crucial question has largely gone ignored: namely, what the function of the Secretariat of State will be in a Roman Curia reshaped by a widely expected Franciscan shake-up, a project likely to be launched in earnest come early October following the Pope’s first formal summit with his “Super 8” group of cardinal-assistants hand-picked from around the globe. Along these lines, it is telling that the choice has reputedly fallen to a decorated hand from State’s Second Section – the part that deals with ‘Relations with States,’ as opposed to the First Section for “General Affairs,” which has served as the Curia’s de facto central nervous system since the Regimini reforms of Paul VI (himself a Stato chief) in 1967. At the same time, Parolin’s quietly deft presence on Papa Bergoglio’s home continent, and in what’s been Latin America’s most charged posting over recent years, cannot be discounted”.

As a result of this Rocco hints, that the secretary of State could become more like his US counterpart, a foreign minister and less like a prime minister to which the office is most often equated with. Where this will leave Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, the current substitute for General Affairs is anyone’s guess. Though previous reports have said that Becciu and the secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Mamberti will be moved out to other positions. When Francis replaces these two incumbents, and who with, will say much as to where he wants the Secretariat of State to go generally. The posts most likely to take Becciu and Mamberti are the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. Both of these would keep the custom of giving their incumbents the red and at the same time allow Francis to choose his own people to take what are in effect far more important jobs.

Not only that but Parolin wil be the youngest secretary of State for some time and will be the youngest of all his immediate “underlings” with Becciu and Mamberti both in their 60s, only the delegate for Pontifical Representations, will be younger and even then only by two years. Where he, and the others will go, and how quickly will speak volumes about how he views the Bertone experiement.

Rocco adds that Parolin “was the Holy See’s prime handler of contentious ad extra issues and delicate negotiations with regimes ranging from China and Iran to, most prominently, Vietnam (left), where tensions between the church and the country’s Communist government only flared following his departure from the Rome post”.

The left wing Tablet notes that Parolin, “is considered to be a protégé of the late Cardinal Agostino Casaroli and retired Cardinal Achille Silvestrini – two of the most distinguished papal diplomats of post-Vatican II era. Casaroli, who served as Secretary of State from 1979-90, was considered to be one of the most effective men ever to hold that position. During a long and productive diplomatic career he was the main architect of the Vatican’s Ostpolitik, a policy of dealing in a constructive rather than confrontational way with the Soviet Union and its satellite countries. Cardinal Silvestrini, Casaroli’s primary disciple, was never named Secretary of State. However, he served as the Vatican foreign minister during the Casaroli administration”.

John Allen writes  interestingly that “By naming a consummate insider, Francis appears to want to ‘reboot’ the Vatican’s operating system back to a point when it was perceived to operate efficiently, rather than scrapping it entirely”.

Allen also notes that Francis has confirmed Archbishop Becciu, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Msgr Peter Wells as well as Archbishop Georg Gänswein, prefect of the Pontifical Household. The latter is most interesting and suggests that Archbishop Ganswein will not be leaving Rome for either Cologne or Mainz has had been suggested previously. Naturally this could change, especially as Pope emeritus Benedict grows increasingly old and frail.

Allen goes on to mention that Parolin’s role as secretary of State could be scaled down dramatically, “At the same time, longtime Vatican-watchers caution that Parolin may not wield quite the same power as his immediate predecessors, Bertone under Benedict and Cardinal Angelo Sodano under John Paul II. Francis is a pope who takes the reins of government into his own hands, making him less dependent on aides, and the creation of a council of eight cardinals from around the world to assist him means that key decisions may be hammered out by that body rather than in the Secretariat of State”.

Allen ends the piece “Though Parolin served under Bertone and moved up the ladder on his watch, he was already a fixture in the Secretariat of State before Bertone was given the top job by Benedict XVI in 2006. When he was shipped off to Caracas in 2009, some took it as a sign that Parolin had fallen out of favour with Bertone – a perception seen as damaging then, but ironically helpful now. Italians with long memories are reading the appointment as a sign that Francis wants to take the Secretariat of State back to its perceived glory days, under powerful and über-competent figures such as Giovanni Benelli, who served Paul VI, and Agostino Casaroli, who held the same position under John Paul II. Indirectly, it’s also being taken as a backhanded admission that the “Bertone experiment” – bringing in a complete outsider as Secretary of State, counting on his loyalty and decency to make up for his lack of experience – really didn’t work”.

In related news Pope Francis has replaced Bishop Sciacca as secretary-general of the G of the Vatican City State naming Fr Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, L.C. to the post. Reports note that “Contrary to other predecessors, the new Secretary has not been appointed titular bishop. Until recent times, the role of Secretary of the Governorate was also held by lay people. In the future therefore, prelates called to fill certain positions in administrative of financial bodies of the Vatican and the Holy See, may not be appointed bishops automatically”.

Lastly, the one thing that Archbishop Parolin is missing is his red hat. The date of the next consistory has not been set but Pope Francis surely has a date in mind. The lost likely is the end of this year, or perhaps more plausible the beginning of next year, 2014.

The first appointments


There are a number of appointments the Pope Francis will make over the coming weeks and months. Among the first and most obviously prominent appointment he must make is that of the secretary of State to replace the aging Cardinal Bertone who has been in the role since September 2006.

John Allen writes that “when Francis said some of the cardinals had suggested he call himself Adrian VII after Pope Adrian VI in the 16th century, who tried to tackle the corruption and scandal that bred the Protestant Reformation. The mere fact that cardinals suggested this to Francis hints at something that’s been abundantly documented in other reporting: The new pope was elected on a reform mandate, beginning with a serious house-cleaning in the Roman Curia. The other hint came in a brief two-line statement, also issued Saturday, that indicated Francis had decided to reappoint the Vatican officials who lost their jobs when the previous papacy ended, but was only doing so donec aliter provideatur — ‘until other provisions are made.'”

He goes on to mention “the most important appointment Pope Francis will make in the days to come is his Secretary of State, the figure who’s more or less the prime minister in the Vatican system. Fairly or not, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State under Benedict XVI, is widely faulted for the failures in business management that have dogged Benedict’s reign, and Francis’ choice of a replacement thus looms as especially significant. Some early speculation has fallen on Italian Cardinal Fernando Filoni as a possible choice. If so, it would arguably be in keeping with the new pope’s character: Filoni, 66, was the lone Western diplomat to remain on the ground in Baghdad in 2003 when he was serving as the papal ambassador and the bombs began to fall”.

He adds “Despite being a career Vatican bureaucrat, Filoni had a falling out with Bertone, so he would be perceived as a break with the past. Another oft-mentioned possibility is Archbishop Pietro Parolin, currently the pope’s ambassador to Venezuela and the Vatican’s former under-secretary for relations with states. Until being shipped off to Latin America in 2009, Parolin had the reputation of being the brains behind most Vatican diplomatic initiatives, one of the few people one could engage in the Secretariat of State with the energy and imagination to get things done. Other candidates being floated include Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, head of the Vatican City State, and Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, the papal ambassador to Colombia. Balestrero was the architect of the Vatican’s effort to meet global anti-money-laundering standards, and like Parolin, was seen as the best and brightest within the Secretariat of State before being sent packing. Of course, the election of Francis himself was a long shot, and there’s no reason not to think he might produce another surprise in his choice for this key role”.

Whatever about Cardinal Filoni or Archbishop Parolin, Francis will not appoint Archbishop Balestrero who technically is not even a bishop yet. This is to say nothing of his age, at only 46, bascially prohibits him from such a high office. There have been exceptions to this in history but life expectancy played a role also. Lastly to appoint Balestrero would seem to bring back someone who has been implicated in the Vatileaks scandal and would make little sense if Francis is to clean up the Curia.

While the time line for such events has not been finalised, the most obvious time is after Easter. Other reports contradictorily note that  the “current Substitute, [Giovanni] Angelo Becciu and the Prefect of Propaganda Fide, the former nuncio Filoni, seem to be excluded as possible candidates because of their involvement in the rifts and internal struggles that have tainted Bertone’s management of the Secretariat of State. Pope Francis would apparently prefer to start with a clean slate and a new Secretary of State”.

The piece then goes on to mention names “starting with Archbishop Piero Parolin, Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela. Archbishop Celestine Migliore, the Pope’s current ambassador in Warsaw who represented the Holy See at the UN is another potential future collaborator of the Pope. Both have close ties with the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, who was Secretary of State under John Paul II for many years and also under Benedict XVI for a period of time, before Bertone was appointed as his substitute. But the list goes on. In Paris there’s Mgr. Luigi Ventura (from Brescia, Italy), a follower of the Casaroli school of thought. He has a very respectable résumé, with stints in Burkina Faso, Chile, Canada and France. Then there’s Giacomo Guido Ottonello who was first Nuncio to Panama and now Ecuador, where since 2005 he has had the difficult task of mediating between the Church and an openly anti-clerical government. He has a deep knowledge of Latin America. Finally, we must not forget the former Nuncio to Brazil, Mgr. Lorenzo Baldisseri, whom Benedict XVI appointed Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops and Secretary of the College of Cardinals in the Conclave, in 2012. There are voices going round about Pope Francis wanting to create him a cardinal”.

It ends “It is likely, however, that both the Substitute Secretary of State, Archbishop Angelo Becciu and the Pope’s “foreign affairs minister”, Mgr. Dominique Mamberti, will hang on to their positions for a period of time, under Francis’ reign. They will probably be substituted at a later date”.

While far from certain, one possibility would be to move Archbishop Mamberti out to a congregation, the most obvious choice being Causes of Saints and appointed Archbishop Parolin in his place. The respected Migliore could also take the role of secretary for Relations with States. It is interesting that the article mentions Archbishop Baldisseri given the recent events concerning him.  This could be construed as a sign in his favour, although given his age it would probably be another short tenure as secretary of State given his age, not more than six or so years. On a related note while there are plenty of candidates to be appointed there are reasonably few places for them to go. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints will open up in June when Cardinal Amato turns 75 as well the Apostolic Penitentiary in late March but there is little scope beyond that if Francis wishes to move quickly. If Filoni is not chosen as secretary of State then there will need to be a consistory with the best time in June or failing that around the 8 December.

On a separate issue the unease with which Msgr Gudio Marini feels with Pope Francis is clear. The two styles clash too much to last long together and as it happens the Genovese cleric is in good luck with the bishop of Ventimiglia-San Remo having just passed the retirement age. The diocese also, by good fortune, happens to be in the province of the Archdiocese of Genoa where Marini was born and with Cardinal Bagnasco now 70 it would place the still young Marini in good contention for Genoa when the time comes.

Reviving a tradition


The Portuguese section of Vatican Radio, reported that Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary of the conclave, received the cardinalitial zucchetto from Pope Francis at the end of the conclave. A number of Portuguese sources confirmed this and but Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Press Office of the Holy See, in a press conference, had denied the news. This was an old tradition that had been practiced for the last time by Pope John XXIII in 1958, when he placed his skullcap on the head of then-Monsignor Alberto di Jorio, who was secretary of the conclave. Di Jorio was formally created a cardinal in December with Pope John having been elected that October. It also occurred in 1903 when Pope Pius X imposed his zuchetto on Rafael Merry del Val.

The recovery of Latin America


Today Eusébio Oscar Cardinal Scheid, S.C.I., archbishop emeritus of Rio de Janeiro turns 80 and therefore loses his voting rights with the voting College dropping to 119 after the consistory last month. An article discusses the College of Cardinals as it is currently constituted.

It notes “In this college are represented all five continents, with 66 countries, 48 of which have at least one cardinal elector”. It goes on to add that “Looking at the geopolitical representation of the voters, it can be noted that the continent most represented remains Europe with 62 cardinals (51.6%). It is followed by the Americas with 35 (29.2%), Africa and Asia with 11 each (9.2%), Oceania with 1 (0.8%). This is – in absolute numbers more than in percentages – a distribution largely in line with recent decades”.

Interestingly it goes on to add “For example, it is enough to recall that at the beginning of 1978 – the end of the pontificate of Paul VI – out of 118 cardinal voters, there were 59 Europeans (50%), 32 Americans (27.2%), 12 Asians (10.2%), 11 Africans (9.3%), 4 from Oceania (3.4%). There are now 28 Italians (23.3%), while in 1978 there were 27 (22.9%). Breaking down the representation of the New World, it can be noted that today there are 14 North Americans (11.7%) and 21 Latin Americans (17.5%), while in 1978 there were, respectively, 13 (11%) and 20 (16.9%). Scanning the list of countries most represented in the college of electors of the pope, it can be noted that after the Italians the most numerous group is that of the United States, which numbers 11. This is followed by Brazil and Germany (6 each); India and Spain (5 each); France, Mexico, and Poland (4 each)”.

It mentions “With the consistory of November 24, Benedict XVI has in all created 90 cardinals so far, 74 of whom were under the age of 80 at the time of their appointment. Only four popes in history were more “creative” than him: John Paul II (with 231 new cardinals), Leo XIII (with 147), Paul VI (with 144) and Pius IX (with 123). John XXIII made 52 cardinals, Pius XII 56. Analyzing the geopolitics of the Ratzingerian appointments of cardinals, it can be noted that, overall, the current pope has so far granted 39 “voting” cardinalates to Europe (52.7%; among them 21 Italians, 28.4%); 10 each to North America and Asia (13.5%); 8 to Latin America (10.8%); 7 to Africa (9.5%); none so far to Oceania”.

It ends noting “As can be noted, with respect to his predecessor Benedict XVI has granted, in terms of percentages, more cardinals to Italy, North America, Asia, and  Africa; but fewer to Latin America”.

Yet this will change in 2013 when Cardinal Sandoval Iniguez, Cardinal Errazuriz Ossa and Cardinal Agnelo among others all lose their voting rights. It is highly likely that the successors of these cardinals will be made cardinals either next year or if not, then in 2014. Among the others in line for red hats are Seoul, Cebu, Bangkok, Kampala as well as Toledo, Venice, Turin coupled with a small number of curialists, notably CDF and Family.

The German Machiavelli


Pope Benedict has in the space of one day answered many questions, but left more to be asked. On 6 December, Benedict filled the vacancy left by Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller by appointing Rudolf Voderholzer as bishop of Regensburg. The move finally ended discussion of Benedict’s private secretary, Msgr Georg Ganswein leaving Rome and taking the post.

Ganswein is thought to be implicated in the Vatileaks scandal, along with others who were given the usual promotion for former prefects. However, in a move worthy of any Machiavellian politician, Pope Benedict has appointed Ganswein as prefect of the Pontifical Household and, unusually at the same time Titular Archbishop of Urbs Salva. If the prefect is a bishop, he is usually not an archbishop, Harvey being the notable exception.

Rocco, has the story, “In a move of massive significance which’ll be seen as either a doubling-down on the clout of B16’s longtime private secretary – or his being distanced from the daily minutiae of the Papal Apartment in the wake of the ‘Vatileaks’ fiasco”. The appointment of Ganswein moves him out of the direct line of sensitive papal documents but at the same time allows Ganswein a promotion. With the move Benedict has made a clean break with the scandal, with Cardinal Harvey out of the way and the butler jailed, for now, and now Ganswein out of way as well.

Rocco adds interestingly, “Gänswein joined the staff of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith a decade later, becoming the now-pontiff’s personal aide in 2001 in succession to Bishop Josef Clemens – now #2 at the Pontifical Council for the Laity – a figure with whom Gänswein has long been alleged to have a bitter rivalry”. It would not be hard to foresee Bishop Clemens being rewarded for his service to Benedict. Joachim Cardinal Meisner of Cologne will be 79 on Christmas Day, well past the retirement age of 75. Clemens, 65, should be sent to replace Cardinal Meisner thereby placing him in line for a red hat in at the consistory in 2013, or perhaps 2014.  Rocco goes on to write “Beyond a doubt, this morning’s appointment will raise an inevitable raft of comparisons to the 1998 appointment of Gänswein’s predecessor – Stanislaw Dziwisz, arguably the most powerful papal secretary of modern times – as an unprecedented “adjunct prefect” of the Papal House, named alongside Harvey. (Neither of the duo, however, were raised to the rank of archbishop until five years later, in the wake of John Paul II’s last Consistory.)”

He adds later on in the post that “This time, though, the new arrangement could prove tricky on at least some fronts; as the pontiff is traditionally accompanied by both the prefect of the House and his secretary during audiences, that’d mean Don Georg would somehow have to bilocate to fill both the usual seats that flank the Man in White”, however this problem could be solved reasonably easily by appointing the Maltese priest  Msgr Alfred Xuereb who has already worked with Benedict since 2007, in succession to Gansewin.

Rocco ends, “while Gänswein’s biography curiously offers no verb-tense in describing him as “Particular Secretary” to the pontiff. Put simply, the construct can be seen a subtle, yet no less clear indication that – at least, for now – “Bel Giorgio” will continue on in his existing slot alongside the new one”.

Archbishop-elect Ganswein will most likely be ordained a bishop on 6 January along with the new secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education,  Angelo Vincenzo Zani, and the new nuncio to Nicaragua and former head of protocol, Fortunatus Nwachukwu.


Consistory November 2012:titles and deaconries


The ordinary public consistory for the creation of new cardinals took place today. Unlike the previous consistories held by Pope Benedict there was no pre-consistory meeting. Pope Benedict’s homily is available here. Rocco notes that “despite the traditional enjoinders against piping up, today’s crowd was considerably more lively than its recent predecessors, which seemed to reflect the Pope’s repeatedly-stated aim this time of infusing a beleaguered Vatican with a shot of the ‘church of Pentecost'”.  Below are the titles and deaconries given to the new cardinals today which makes them historical successors to the clergy of Rome.

  • James Michael Cardinal Harvey: Cardinal-Deacon of San Pio V a Villa Carpegna
  • Béchara Boutros Cardinal Raï, O.M.M., Cardinal-Bishop [no suburbican see as not Latin rite cardinal]
  • Baselios Cleemis Cardinal Thottunkal: Cardinal-Priest of San Gregorio VII
  • John Olorunfemi Cardinal Onaiyekan: Cardinal-Priest of San Saturnino
  • Jesus Rubén Cardinal Salazar Gómez: Cardinal-Priest of San Gerardo Maiella
  • Luis Antonio Gokim Cardinal Tagle: Cardinal-Priest of San Felice da Cantalice a Centocelle

Interestingly, this is the first consistory since 2006 where Pope Benedict has decided to assign no new titles or deaconaries. Secondly, in choosing to give the title of San Gregorio VII to Cardinal Thottunkal, he has ensured that the youngest cardinal in the College will hold it for decades. The first holder, Eugênio Cardinal de Araújo Sales who served as archbishop of Rio was a cardinal for 43 years having been assigned the new titular church by Pope Paul VI in 1969.

Rocco mentions “Snubbed in this Consistory list, CDF chief +Muller didn’t attend today’s rites for new cardinals, going instead to Malta”  to attend the ordination of Charles Scicluna. In a blog post Rocco notes that importance of the youngest cardinal in the entire College, Baselios Cleemis Cardinal Thottunkal of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. He writes “it bears noting that this morning brought the elevation of the youngest member of the Pope’s Senate in the figure of the 53 year-old head of India’s Syro-Malankara Catholics, now Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, shown above making the rounds following his induction”.

Rocco adds “Granted self-governing status only in early 2005 – and, thus, Catholicism’s youngest sui iuris Eastern church – the first-ever red hat for the 600,000-member community comes as a rather rapid triumph on several accounts. Over the last two decades, all of two clerics were younger still on entering the College: the Hungarian primate Peter Erdö (now head of the European bishops’ conference) at 51 in 2003 and Sarajevo’s Vinko Puljic, who John Paul II elevated at 49 in 1994 as the late pontiff’s sign of solidarity with the war-torn city, to which he was unable to travel amid the conflict over the breakup of Yugoslavia”. Rocco goes on to write ” Cleemis is a full two years’ junior to the next-youngest “prince” of the church, Manila’s Chito Tagle, who was likewise created today. As previously noted, the “50 barrier” last broken by Puljic is next expected to lift in the mid-term future with the all-but-certain elevation of the leader of the largest Eastern fold: the major-archbishop of the 6 million-member Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, 42 year-old Sviatoslav Shevchuk”. There are questions concerning when the UGCC head will become a cardinal. Some have said that his predecessor  Cardinal Husar will become 80 next year, thus they say, Shevchuk will become a cardinal at the consistory next year. However, 2014 is another possible date that should not be ruled out. Rocco closes the profile of Thottunkal by saying “In a 2003 speech to the church’s Synod – which elected Thottunkal as its de facto patriarch in February 2007 – John Paul II lauded it as Catholicism’s “fastest-growing” branch worldwide”. Others have commented “With today’s mini Consistory, Benedict XVI pointed towards an exit from the Vatileaks scandal, he “purified” the ecclesiastical hierarchies corrupted by scandal and outlined the characteristics of his successor: non-European and a pastor of persecuted communities”.

The next questions that are to be answered are, what assignments that new cardinals receive, and secondly,  when will the next consistory take place. The College of Cardinals is now at its canonical limit of 120 but it will drop to 119 on 8 December when Eusébio Oscar Cardinal Scheid turns 80. Next year an additional 10 cardinals will turn 80.

November 2012 consistory


In a move that has shocked even the most expierenced Vatican watchers Pope Benedict XVI has called a consistory to create new cardinals to be held in exactly one month’s time, Feast of Christ the King, 24 November. This gathering will be the second consistory to be held under the new rules for the creation of cardinals that was first used in February. This is the second consistory of the year. Those to be elevated in order are:

  • James Michael Harvey, prefect of the Pontifical Household
  • Bechara  Boutros Rai, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronite Catholic Church
  • Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankar Catholic Church
  • John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja
  • Jesús Rubén Salazar Gómez, archbishop of Bogotá
  • Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila

The last time that two consistories were held in a  year was 1929 when there was a one in July and a second in December. There was only one cardinal created in July 1929 and six in December. There are no Italians on the list which though understandable given that the consistory of Feburary contained so many but what cannot be explained is that there was no real curial presence in those to be created with the new CDF prefect, as well as a host of others all absent.

The only curialist is Archbishop James Michael Harvey, prefect of the Papal Household. Even more unusual is that Archbishop Harvey was not appointed as archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls. The announcement merely stating “whom the Pope plans to appoint as” the new archpriest. This gives the impression that the decision to hold the consistory is rushed. In the February consistory that was announced on 6 January, Benedict had appointed Archbishop Manuel Montiero de Castro as the major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary the previous day in preparation for the announcement. The fact that Harvey was not even appointed as archpriest lends an air of disorganisation to the event. Not only that, but the inclusion of Harvey also speaks volumes with regard to his role in the Vatican leaks scandal. Harvey’s time as archpriest will easily be 15 years, in a job that is meant as a reward for ex-nuncio’s and senior curialists. Instead Archbishop Harvey’s new assignment will only stoke the talk that he is the leaker attempting to oust Cardinal Bertone from his post of secretary of State to His Holiness. The appointment allows Pope Benedict, or perhaps more accurately, Bertone to name someone more in line with his agenda, or at least less opposed to it.

Benedict has moved the composition of the College of Cardinals away from the Italian dominated consistory in February by including the archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria as well as Archbishop Tagle of Manila. He has also included Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal the major archbishop of the Syro-Malankar Catholic Church to be elevated to the cardinalate is not only the first to recieve the red hat but at 53 is set to become the youngest cardinal in the entire College overtaking the archbishop of Berlin, Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki, who was elevated in February.

Although there will have been two consistories this year, there will be 11 electors aging out between the 8 December 2012 (Eusébio Cardinal Scheid) and the 25 December 2013 (Joachim Cardinal Meisner). So a much reduced in size consistory in 2013 is still more than likely to happen which will include Archbishop Muller of the CDF as well as others such as Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, SDB, Jose Gomez, Vincent Nichols, Jose Palma and Francesco Moraglia to name but a few.

Rocco, as surprised as everyone else, notes that this consistory “is the smallest to be called since Paul VI’s final intake of four cardinals in June 1977, at which Papa Montini elevated the freshly-ordained 50 year-old archbishop of Munich and Freising, Joseph Ratzinger.  That gathering was known as the ‘Benelli consistory’ for its linchpin figure – the longtime Curial power Giovanni Benelli, who had been dispatched to Florence earlier that month amid heavy speculation that the move reflected his status as Paul’s intended successor.  In other words, the small intake was seen as the frail pontiff’s taking care of his ‘unfinished business.’ Whether that’s the case again, of course, time will tell”. He also mentions that in “a break from usual practice, all of the diocesan cardinals-designate but one (Salazar) are in Rome for the Synod of Bishops for the New Evangelization, and so are unable to mark today’s announcement with their communities at home. Reflecting the degree to which the move was unforeseen, statements on the elevations have yet to emerge from the dioceses of the far-flung designates”.

Others have  noted that “This is the first consistory since the one celebrated by Pope Pius XI on December 19, 1927 (X) in which no Italian prelate was promoted to the cardinalate; and the first one in which no Europeans were elevated to that dignity since the consistory of March 24, 1924 (IV) by the same pope”.




Cardinal Baldelli dies


Fortunato Cardinal Baldelli,  major penitentiary emeritus of the Apostolic Penitentiary has died.  He is the first in the 2010 consistory to die, having been the second to retire. After the death of Cardinal Baldelli, the members of the College of Cardinals are 205. The cardinal electors are now 116. This means that the consistory next year will have an extra elector’s slot to fill bringing it to 17.

Curia talk and cardinals


After the recent changes to the Curia and the appointment of Archbishop Muller it has been noted that “in the top roles of the Roman curia properly speaking (secretariat of state, congregations, tribunals, pontifical councils, and three offices), the Italians maintain a solid majority. They are 13 out of 28, 46.4 percent. When at the beginning of the pontificate, in 2005, they were 7 out of 27, 25.9 percent. But if one also counts the figures in deputy roles (secretaries and the like), the number of Italians is dropping significantly. Now they are 21 out of 58, 36.2 percent. While in 2005 they were 42 out of 83, 41.8 percent. And it is also on the decline if one looks at the minor managerial figures (undersecretaries and the like): today 36 out of 88, 40.9 percent, while in 2005 they were 42 out of 83, 50.6 percent”. This marks an interesting point the the debate of Italian dominance of the Curia.

The piece goes on to mention that  “beyond these boxes still to be checked, the organizational chart of the Roman curia now appears substantially stabilized for a couple of years, seeing that the next to reach the retirement age of 75 will be in 2013 the cardinals Angelo Amato (causes of saints), Manuel Monteiro de Castro (penitentiary), Antonio Maria Vegliò (migrants), and Francesco Coccopalmerio (legislative texts), and in 2014 Cardinal Grocholewski. But for each of them can be anticipated, as usual, an extension of at least one year”. It also posits the theory that an Italian priest will become the regent of the Prefecture of the Papal Household. If it is true, it would be the first firm indication that Msgr Georg Ganswein will become bishop of Regensburg, replacing Muller.

The piece notes regarding the succession of Cardinal Bertone that “no replacement for him should be expected in the short term”, adding that “Benedict XVI kept the previous secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, in office until the age of 78 and ten months. And if he does not want to dismiss Bertone earlier than he did with Sodano, then the current “prime minister” could remain at his post at least until October of next year. This extension is made all the more plausible by the fact that it is still difficult to identify the figure of the churchman whom the pope – out of respect, understanding, and personal familiarity – might call to his side in the place of Bertone”. However, this notion can be contested with a host of candidates able to take up the role from Cardinal Bertone. All Pope Benedict has to do is chose does he want continunity with Bertone, in which case he could chose Archbishop Mamberti, or a different style, PEA trained Cardinal Sandri.

The article adds that “At the end of 2012, in fact, if the unwritten rule is applied that assigns the red hat only where there is no other cardinal with the right to vote, the awards could go to the traditionally cardinalate sees of Bogotà (Jesus Ruben Salazar Gomez), Rio de Janeiro (the Cistercian Orani Joao Tempesta), Seoul (Andrew Yeom Soo-jung), Manila (Luis Antonio Tagle) and/or Cebu (José Serofia Palma), Westminster  (Vincent Nichols), Toledo (Braulio Rodriguez Plaza), Quebec (Gerald Cyprien Lacroix of the secular institute Pius X), Venice (Francesco Moraglia)”. It also mentions names such as  Cesare Nosiglia of Turin,  Murilo Sebastiao Ramos Krieger of  Sao Salvador da Bahia with Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, SDB of Santiago de Chile among others being mentioned.

Benedict will only have 16 slots to fill if, as expected he holds a consistory next year. Among the more certain names are the patriach of Venice and archbishop of Turin along with a small number of curialists. After that the choice is seemingly endless, but Latin America and Asia should feature after this year’s Italian and European dominated list.

Thoughts of the prefect


The new prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller on the SSPX, liberation theology and when he will be made a cardinal, amongst other things.

Muller to CDF


As had been predicted for months, Pope Benedict formally named Gerhard Ludwig Muller as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, president of the International Theological Commission and president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. Muller will be the first in the 2013 class of new cardinals along with the other curialists named in the last few days.

Rocco makes the point that, “by seniority Müller will be the first cardinal created by Benedict at his next consistory, which could come in Spring 2013” adding interestingly, that “barring one exception: namely, should the pontiff appoint a new Secretary of State before then who hasn’t already received the red hat”.  There will be a consistory next year, yet a more likely date is around the 29 June, as there will be 16 electoral slots to fill in a possible 120 elector conclave. Thus, Benedict may wish to wait a few months and not have the College of Cardinals above 120 for slightly less time that he would if he held it in the spring, as Rocco suggests. Secondly, Rocco alludes to the fact that Cardinal Bertone is himself going to be 78 this December and Pope Benedict may wish to retire his closet associate and name a replacement. There is however no certainty that Benedict would retire Bertone at all.

Rocco goes on to mention that Muller was appointed a member of the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity with the lone other curialist holding these jobs being the now prefect emeritus, Cardinal Levada. Rocco adds that ” As early as January, however, German reports noted that the bishop had been taking refresher courses in Italian”.

Rocco adds that ironically while at the helm of the CDF the then Cardinal Ratzinger stamped out liberation theology in the 1970s, but  “it’s worth noting that Müller’s appointment to lead the CDF survived an attempted subterfuge by some conservatives in Roman circles, who — among other things — sought to play up a longstanding friendship the new ‘Grand Inqusitor’ has kept with a leading architect of liberation theology, the Peruvian Dominican Gustavo Gutierrez”.

Rocco mentions that Cardinal Levada’s tenure “neared its close, the work of the congregation sparked twin firestorms in the American church and media as, citing “serious doctrinal problems,” in late April the office imposed a wide-ranging oversight on the nation’s leading umbrella-group of nuns, theLeadership Conference of Women Religious, then issued a high-profile warning in early June on a 2006 book on sexual ethics written by another sister, the retired Yale professor Margaret Farley RSM, a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America”.

He concludes “With his ascent, the new prefect now likewise becomes president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, making him — at least officially — the prime overseer of the Vatican’s doctrine-centric reconciliation effort with the Society of St Pius X”.

John Allen makes note that many opposed Muller’s appointment as “Müller is also a close personal friend of Guttierez, widely seen as the father of the liberation theology movement in Latin America. Every year since 1998, Müller has travelled to Peru to take a course from Guttierez, and has spent time living with farmers in a rural parish near the border with Bolivia. In 2008, he accepted an honorary doctorate from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, which is widely seen as a bastion of the progressive wing of the Peruvian church. On the occasion, he praised Guttierez and defended his theology. ‘The theology of Gustavo Gutiérrez, independently of how you look at it, is orthodox because it is orthopractic,’ he said. ‘It teaches us the correct way of acting in a Christian fashion since it comes from true faith.’ Müller has been rumored to be in pole position to take over at the doctrinal congregation for some time, and late last year there was a push in traditionalist circles to try to block the appointment. E-mails were circulated suggesting that Müller, already a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is not a man of ‘secure doctrine.’ Specifically, the e-mails cited Müller for espousing suspect positions on the virginity of Mary (which he said in a 2003 book shouldn’t be understood in a ‘physiological’ sense), the Eucharist (Müller has apparently counseled against using the term ‘body and blood of Christ’ to describe the consecrated bread and wine at Mass), and ecumenism (last October, Müller declared that Protestants are ‘already part of the church’ founded by Christ.) Defenders of Müller argued that in each case, his words had either been taken out of context or were consistent with official teaching”.

The SSPX who obviously know better than the pope said they were against the appointment.

All but one


Yesterday, 26 June, Pope Benedict appointed Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, OP who had been serving as secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments since 11 July 2009, as vice-president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. With the regularisation of the SSPX into the Church imminent Benedict obviously feels that Archbishop Di Noia’s talents are best at Ecclesia Dei. Archbishop Di Noia has been credited with reorganising the congregation after “Pope Benedict’s ‘motu proprio’ of 30 August 2011, ‘Quaerit Semper'”. Others note that “The doctrinal congregation also emphasized that Archbishop Di Noia enjoys ‘broad respect’ in the Jewish community, which ‘will help in addressing some issues that have arisen in the area of Catholic-Jewish relations as the journey toward reconciliation of the traditionalist communities has progressed.'” The article adds that “Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told journalists that the new position is a sign of ‘the importance and delicate nature of the kind of difficulties’ with which the commission is dealing and should not be seen as an indication of how things are proceeding with the society”.

At the same time Benedict appointed Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds to replace Archbishop Di Noia. On the same day Ennio Cardinal Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family was retired having been appointed in 2008. He was replaced by Vincenzo Paglia, formerly bishop of Terni with close links to the Sant’Egidio movement. Unusally, Cardinal Antonelli did not complete his five year term but was allowed to retire early.

Cardinal Farina who retired from his post of archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church on 9 June had his successor named, as expected, Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès OP formerly secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education. Benedict obviously chose not to appoint a senior curial cardinal near the retirement age as was previously thought.

Also on 26 June Archbishop Piergiuseppe Vacchelli, adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples was retired and Protase Rugambwa, formerly bishop of Kigoma, Tanzania. Lastly, Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, O.F.M. Conv. was retired as regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary with Fr Krzysztof Józef Nykiel appointed as his replacement. Fr Nykeil, a former CDF official, was not appointed a bishop although this is not unusual for holders of his new post.

Interestingly, some of the appointments where not Italian, with Polish, Tanzanian, French and English priests all receiving posts in the Curia. This is amid increasing resentment by some who view the Curia as once again being dominated by Italians.

Naturally, Archbishop Paglia and Archbishop Brugues will be created cardinals next year just behind the next CDF prefect, the announcement of which did not come, but one is expected in the next few days.

Back in German hands?


Rorate mentions that the Press Office of the Holy See makes note of the meeting between Pope Benedict and Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller of Regensburg. It now looks certain that Muller will replace Cardinal Levada as the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and be among next year’s new cardinals.

A whiff of red, already


It has only been a quarter of a year since the last consistory, but already there is sustained speculation of another one.

Some have reported that “Benedict XVI is more likely to call a consistory towards theend of the Year of the Faith, which he established with the ‘motu proprio data’, ‘Porta Fidei’ (Door of Faith). The Year of the Faith will begin on the 11th of October 2012 and end on the 24th of November 2013″. By the end of 2013 there will be 16 new slots vacant that need to be filled with the likes of Cardinal Husar, Cardinal Kasper, Cardinal Poletto, Cardinal Farina and Cardinal Meisner all turning 80, in addition to those turning 80 throughout this year.

Meanwhile, Rocco notes that, “With at least 16 more electoral slots to open over the next year on age grounds alone, the next Consistory is almost certain to be held by Spring 2013, and — according to some — possibly even before the end of this year”.

He goes on to say that “Were the pontiff to continue reflecting American Catholicism’s dramatic demographic shift of the last half-century by similarly shuffling around its scarlet, the most likely contenders for the honor are widely thought to be the heads of the Southeast’s two largest dioceses: Archbishops Thomas Wenski, 61, the Harley-riding, famously intense polyglot and policy wonk who now heads the 1.3 million-member Miami church, or Wilton Gregory, 64, the finessed, eminently-regarded president of the US bishops during the 2002 eruption of the clergy sex-abuse crisis, now the leader of an Atlanta fold that’s grown sixfold since 1990, today comprising a million Catholics”.

Yet, whenever Benedict chooses to hold another consistory he will be under pressure to internationalise it after the heavily curialist and Italian dominated one. So as well as Turin, Venice, Westminster, Toledo expect an array of others, Antioch, Cebu, Bangkok,  São Salvador da Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago de Chile, Bogotá and a slew of others. There will of course, be a small number of curialists, headlined by the new prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whoever that will be.