Changes at the Vatican Curia

According to well-placed sources at the Vatican, Pope Francis had planned to roll out a number of major personnel changes in mid-May, including the naming of a new prefect for the Congregation for Saints.

Jul 15, 2016

VATICAN: According to well-placed sources at the Vatican, Pope Francis had planned to roll out a number of major personnel changes in mid-May, including the naming of a new prefect for the Congregation for Saints.

But it has been nearly two months and he has made no big appointments in the Roman Curia. One reason, it’s said, is that the Pope has run into a similar pushback to the one he faced over the transition of leadership at Divine Worship.

The thinking now is that the “big changes” will come sometime in September, after the traditional summer hiatus.

And, just as importantly, they will come once World Youth Day (WYD) — July 25- 31 in Krakow — is out of the way. Because that is when the Pope is expected to make Cardinal Stanis?aw Ry?ko, a curia veteran of 30 years and outgoing president of the soonto- be defunct Pontifical Council for the Laity, the new Archbishop of Krakow.

Francis had assured the current archbishop, Cardinal Stanis?aw Dziwisz, that he would not be replaced until after hosting the international Catholic youth gathering and the papal visit.

So it will be one Stan replacing another — the 71-year-old Ry?ko taking over from the 77-year-old Dziwisz, both spiritual sons of Pope St John Paul II, the man who ordained them to the diaconate, presbyterate and episcopate.

The Krakow appointment is expected to set bigger wheels in motion at the Vatican and, if you permit a bit of midsummer night’s dreaming (albeit a bit late), this is how it could shake out.

As all but confirmed, the Pope will replace Cardinal Angelo Amato SDB, 78, as head of the saint-making department with Archbishop Angelo Becciu, 68, currently deputy Secretary of State (the Sostituto). And Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, the 58-year-old nuncio to Lebanon, will be called back to Rome as the new Sostituto.

Cardinal Ry?ko’s old office is being merged with the pontifical councils for the family and health care. It is believed that Francis wants to bring in a bishop from Latin America to head this new “dicastery” (which, in spite of opposition, he wants to be a congregation, rather than a pontifical council).

The man rumoured for the job is Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga SDB, one of the Pope’s closest allies and a member of his kitchen cabinet (Council of Cardinals or C9). Although he is already 73, he is energetic and charismatic. He could be of great moral and tactical support to the Pope by being based in Rome.

There is a major post in Germany that needs to be filled and the man who might be the perfect candidate for the job currently works at the Vatican.

The ancient and historically important Diocese of Mainz needs a new bishop since the retirement several weeks ago of 80-year-old Cardinal Karl Lehmann. He may not be the local priests’ and people’s preferred choice, but Cardinal Gerhard Müller fits the bill.

You want credentials? The 68-year-old, who is currently head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and often at odds with Pope Francis doctrinally, is a priest from Mainz and did his doctoral work under Cardinal Lehmann.

Going back to head his home diocese could hardly be seen as a punishment, at least not to him. And it would be a generous offering to the universal Church if the folks and clergy of Mainz were to welcome him with open arms, even if some might see it as a penance.

This would allow the Pope to call Cardinal Christoph Schönborn OP from Vienna to take over the CDF. The 71-year-old Dominican is known as a “student” of Joseph Ratzinger, but he has shown creativity and flexibility in supporting the more open theological reforms Francis has sought to bring about. In short, he has been a unifier and a healer.

Finally, what is to be done with Cardinal George Pell? The head of the Secretariat for the Economy is part of a compact group of senior Vatican prelates who are, at best, lukewarm to the reforming spirit the Pope is trying to implement.

He, too, is now 75 and could be retired. But, unprecedentedly, he announced that Francis had told him he would be staying in his current post for the full five-year term to which he was initially appointed in February 2014.

That raised eyebrows, especially because the Pope has never confirmed that – at least not publicly. There is still a chance that Cardinal Pell will be replaced before 2019.

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