The usual stream of pre-summer break appointments is flowing from the Holy See.
The other day, I wrote about what one commentator here quipped could be called the Congregatio pro repropaganda. We weren’t sure what the new dicastery was going to be called, be now we know. It will be called the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. It’s new head, as I wrote is Archbishop Rino Fisichella, once embattled President of the Pontifical Academy for Life and the Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University. Fisichella has been the Holy See’s strongest spokesman on Italian TV when there were public debates about matters of bioethics and he knows how to drive projects forward.
That left open the position of Rector of the Lateran. As I wrote, again, it is Fr. Enrico dal Covolo, S.D.B., a Salesian (though some say SDB actually means "Socio di Bertone"). He has been in Patristics for years. He probably helped to ghost write the Holy Father’s Wednesday Audiences on the Fathers of the Church. He gave a papal retreat last year. It remains to be seen if he will be made a bishop.
Since there is a domino effect in these appointments, one of the members of the Pontifical Academy for Life steps up the ladder to become its President now that Fisichella is promoted. So, we will be hearing more from Msgr. Ignacio Carrasco de Paula in the future.
That leaves the big enchillada, the Congregation for Bishops. For a long time people were talking about Card. Pell of Sydney, who would have brought a verrrrry different style to the Congregation. But rumors about his health and accusations from Ireland about his handing of sex abuse cases probably knocked him out of the box. I opined that the choice might by Card. Marc Ouellet. Then I sort of lost hope that it would be someone that good, someone as close to Pope Benedict’s theological vision. I suspected that someone far weaker theologically and more political, perhaps an Italian, might be appointed. I was wrong. It is Marc Card. Ouellet, now emeritus Archbishop of Quebec. I am sure he will do a good job. He is a superb linguist and knows the North American and South American scene well. He taught in South America for years and his Spanish is perfect. He has been in the curia before, taught in Rome, and thus speaks Italian. He has also been appointed as head of the Commission for Latin America. Ouellet was a good choice, all in all.
I think the common thread here is that these man are very much within Pope Benedict’s theological school.
My theory is that the Prefect of Bishops has to be able to speak English because the Holy Father is focused on reshaping Anglophone bishops conferences. More on that here.
UPDATE: My friend the nearly-ubiquitous and fair-minded John Allen, sadly still writing for the National Catholic Fishwrap, says:
Bishop Kurt Koch of Basel, Switzerland, will replace Cardinal Walter Kasper as President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission for Religious Relations with Jews.
Another man closely tied to Pope Benedict.