The Holy Father made an interesting appointment this week.
For a long time there have been strong rumors that one of Rome’s auxiliary bishops, His Excellency Rino Fisichella, Rector of the Lateran University and one of the real go to guys for the Italian media, would be made Secretary of the CDF. That would mean that the present Secretary, Archbishop Angelo Amato would be moving up to head one of the posts requiring a Cardinal, perhaps the Congregation for Causes of Saints.
However, Pope Benedict has named Bp. Fisichella as President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, making him an archbishop. He replaces Bp. Elio Sgreccia, who at 80 years old must retire for reasons of age.
I believe (now) Archbp. Fisichella will remain Rector of the Lateran. At least I haven’t seen anything to the contrary. Nor have my friends on the inside heard that he won’t be Rector any longer.
BTW… this is a bigger slap down than when Archbp. Piero Marini was moved to head up the offices for Eucharistic Congresses. Furthermore, L’Osservatore Romano also had a little note to explain how important it is to have an Archbishop! (Insult to injury.) So, it looks like Archbp. Fisichella is still at the Lateran, but now he has far less influence in the Vicariate.
At the same time, the very important Camillo Card. Ruini will be stepping aside as Vicar for the Diocese of Rome. Card. Ruini runs the day to day stuff for the Pope’s diocese for him while Pope Benedict is doing his Pope things.
The strong candidate to take over the post of Vicar of Rome is Agostino Card. Vallini, who is presently the head of the Apostolic Signatura, which is the Church’s "Supreme Court", which handles appeals from the Rota and other civil and criminal cases which arise in the Vatican City State.
Were Card. Vallini to be moved to the Vicariate of Rome, that would leave a gap at the top of the Church’s judicial ladder.
It would not surprise me at all were His Holiness to choose His Excellency Raymond Burke, Archbishop of St. Louis. Pope John Pail II and Pope Benedict highly respected Archbp. Burke as a canonist. Burke spent a long time in Rome and was the Defend of the Bond for Holy Roman Church. He has been appointed to many positions on dicasteries. There are few canonists who rival him for clarity of thought and expertise.
It would be a tremendous loss for the Church in the United States, but a great gain for the Universal Church.
In the meantime, we are also waiting to see what will happen with the appointment of Archbp. Amato to another dicastery, perhaps to a cardinal’s chair. Last week another name, also rumored before, started getting stronger: the Sardinian born Bishop Ignazio Sanna, who was himself once at the Lateran University (back in my days there) as Dean of the Theology Faculty.
Furthermore, I think many of us are holding our breath as we pray that His Excellency Archbp. Malcolm Ranjith will be made Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship if His Holiness decides to allow the great Cardinal Arinze (titular Cardinal of my Suburbicarian Diocese) to have a little rest after all these years of service.
We are getting to the point in the calendar year when many changes are made to the Curia. Perhaps we shall see a flurry of appointments before the summer break.