Roman Curial appointments: a few observations

A couple things popped up on the screen today.

First, Pope Francis has finally named a Secretary of State: Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela. He starts on 15 October 2013.

Also, the Holy Father assigned Spanish-born Fr. Fernando Vergez, LC, to run the Vatican City State’s Governatorato as Secretary General.  The interesting thing about this appointment is not that he is a Legionaire of Christ – which I consider unimportant – but rather than he has not been also named an archbishop.

Thus, it seems that Francis is slowing down the career escalator.

A former head of the Governatorato is now Nuncio in these USA, Archbp.  Carlo Maria Viganò, the man I hoped would become the Secretary of State.  Viganò’s successor, and the immediate predecessor of Vergez, is Bp. Giuseppe Sciacca.  Francis created a new position for Sciacca at the tribunal run by Card. Burke, the Apostolic Signatura.  That was a little odd, and it probably means that Sciacca isn’t going anywhere else soon. Some traditionalists will read this as a bad sign for them, because Sciacca is known to be interested in traditional liturgical worship.  So is Card. Burke, of course.  But Sciacca started out as a good canonist.  That, more than the liturgical reason, is probably why Sciacca went back to the Signatura.

On that note, it will be interesting to see when Francis calls a consistory for the purpose of making some new cardinals. Parolin will eventually need a red hat. That, however, is also not interesting. What will be interesting to watch is whether or not Francis confirms Archbp. Müller in his post at the CDF and give him a red hat.  Benedict XVI did not make him a cardinal, after all.

 

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26 Responses to Roman Curial appointments: a few observations

  1. McCall1981 says:

    Does anyone here know much about Archbishop Parolin, as far as whether this is a good appointment or not?

    I saw an article from John Allen that seemed to indicate that Parolin was not much of a revolutionary pick, which I took as a positive sign.

  2. Legisperitus says:

    Rorate describes Parolin as “very close” to Sodano.

  3. Geoffrey says:

    I never minded Cardinal Sodano, or Cardinal Bertone for that matter. They are all men of God, trying to to their best, as are we all.

  4. MarkG says:

    >>>>On that note, it will be interesting to see when Francis calls a consistory for the purpose of making some new cardinals…. Benedict XVI did not make him a cardinal, after all.

    What does that mean? Are there some positions in the Vatican were you can be a Cardinal but don’t have to be? If that’s the case, what does it mean when someone is appointed to a position that usually has a Cardinal, but they aren’t made a Cardinal?

    A similar question: at the last conclave, I remember them saying they might be some Cardinals appointed but not publically announced usually because they are in countries where it would be dangerous. Have any of those ever came out due to a changed political situation? Do their names get kept somewhere in case a Pope changes so the new Pope is aware of them?

  5. Phil_NL says:

    MarkG:

    The top curial positions usually are filled by cardinals, in the sense that if the people named to filled those post aren’t cardinals yet, they tend to be elevated to that rank in the near future. It’s no ironclad rule though, both the curial nominations and the red hats (elevation to the college of cardinals) are the sole discretion of the reiging Pope.
    However, if a person gets named to a position that usually involves promotion to cardinalate rank, and he’s skipped for more than one consistory, well, anyone can read into that what they want, but I doubt many would see it as a confirmation of the Holy Father’s trust in that person, if you get my drift.

    Your second question refers to cardinals created ‘in pectore’, that means that the Pope keeps the names to himself (literally ‘in his heart’), usually indeed for fear of persecution. China and Vietnam were / are countries were you’d expect this, for example. It is possible that at a later consistory these men do indeed take their position, and from then on they can exercise their rights and priviliges as cardinals, including voting in a conclave. The only difference is that among the cardinals, they’ll rank from the moment they were created in pectore, rather than from the time they received their red hats.
    However, should a Pope die before the names can be revealed, this appointment would lapse. In fact, any indication of a Pope to name someone a cardinal which isnt followed up by the actual official announcement (or even ceremony, that detail eludes me right now, though the Pope could of course call for a consistory on his deathbed to finalize the matter in 5 minutes) is void. This ensures everyone will know exactly who is entitled to vote in a conclave, which is all for the better, as conspiracy theories in that area are utterly undesirable.

  6. Tim Ferguson says:

    I had wondered if the appointment of Sciacca to the Signatura meant an increased workload (or at least a foreseen increase) at the Signatura. Now that the Rota is handling ratum et non consummatum marriage cases, it could mean that, tangentially, the work for the Signatura may also increase.

    Also, with the proposed revision of Book VI of the Latin Code of Canon law in the works (somewhere), the Signatura might be planning for greater responsibilities.

  7. Quanah says:

    I am not familiar with any of these men, but if Archbp Vigano was Fr. Z’s hope for Secretary of State then I’m certainly glad that we at least get the benefit of having him here.

  8. cregduff says:

    It is very likely that the genesis of Francis’ relationship with Parolin goes back to the time when he was the secretary to Cardinal Pironio, since, as such, Francis would have had want to consult Pironio on occasion when the latter was Archbishop in Argentina, before himself (with one man, who later left to be married in between). Please note that Pironio was known to be an extremely holy man of prayer which likely helped form Parolin in his early priesthood. This move is of a nature more deep than seen on the surface and there lies here more significance than the brooding MSM likes to report as “the simple Pope Francis.”

  9. TNCath says:

    I am not sure what this ultimately means, but I tend to lean with the opinions of both Fr. Z. and John Allen: this is not a particularly revolutionary appointment. I also tend to think that most of the duties of the Secretary of State will be more administrative than policy forming, for Pope Francis seems to be doing most of the driving in that area, more so certainly than Pope Benedict did. I’m beginning to wonder when and if anything particularly revolutionary is ever going to take place with this pope.

  10. Athelstan says:

    I never minded Cardinal Sodano, or Cardinal Bertone for that matter. They are all men of God, trying to to their best, as are we all.

    It always behooves us to be charitable wherever possible, and if Cardinal Sodano has sincerely asked forgiveness of God for his sins, and been properly contrite, he can be forgiven.

    But there’s no getting around the ugly evidence that he accepted significant funds from both the Legion of Christ and Fr. Marcel Maciel, and appears to have obstructed the investigations into both over the years. Among other things.

    Reform required his departure from the Curia long before it actually happened. As it was, he refused to vacate his office long after his resignation was accepted by Pope Benedict.

  11. ClavesCoelorum says:

    Would Father like to see Abp. Müller confirmed in his position and presented with a red hat? I would! :)

  12. Ambrose Jnr says:

    I agree with you, ClavesCoelorum.

    I’m even looking forward to Abp. Mueller being made a cardinal first at the next consistory, considering that the CDF has pride of place among all the congregations, so its Prefect is shown due honour.

    Considering that Abp. Mueller and Pope Francis have kind of a similar profile (very orthodox catholics with a special predilection for the poorest of the poor), I’d venture that Abp. Mueller’s role as CDF Prefect is very secure…are only traditionalists with some bias doubting this or have they specific info to the contrary?

  13. robtbrown says:

    Abp Mueller is known to be hostile toward the SSPX. IMHO, reunion would be more difficult if Mueller remains the prefect of the SCDF.

  14. Tony from Oz says:

    Ambrose Jnr:

    I somehow have a hunch that ClavesCoelorum is being facetious, and having a playful jest with Fr Z. The smiley emoticon indicates as much, methinks – LOL!

    Unless…unless…you are trumping even ClaveCoelorum’s facetiousness apropos a Cardinal’s hat for the preposterous Archbishop Mueller? But, as a traddie laddie, I am in complete agreement with you when you state ” I’d venture that Abp. Mueller’s role as CDF Prefect is very secure…”. Don’t think many Trads would incline to a different view either!

  15. ClavesCoelorum says:

    Tony from Oz, I am being serious that I would like to see Abp. Müller made a Cardinal and could well imagine Fr. Z to be of similar opinion in that regard. Why would Traddies not like him, have I missed something?

  16. Tony from Oz says:

    This paragraph from Rocco Palmo’s blog ‘Whispers in the Loggia” about Archbishop Parolin made me groan:

    “As he prepares to take the top post of a Curia likely to undergo a sweeping systematic reform over the coming months, one element of the incoming Secretary’s biography particularly sticks out: as a student at the Gregorian, Parolin wrote his doctoral thesis in canon law on the Synod of Bishops, an organ which Francis has already gone on-record as looking to bulk up in terms of its clout and responsibilities.”

    From the very first, I have felt that Pope Francis would be drawn further to bolstering the disastrous conciliar policy of ‘collegiality’ by giving more power to National Episcopal Conferences. But perhaps I am presuming that what Parolin wrote in his doctoral thesis would mean that he would personally support and encourage such a papal initiative.

    I hope I am being presumptuous!

  17. Robbie says:

    I’ve read that Parolin is quite the fan of synodality and wrote a thesis on it. Francis has spoken favorably of synodality as well and I think that may be a key reason why he was chosen. In fact, Francis has hinted he believes some of the powers of the papacy might be better off in the hands of the Synod of Bishops. Apparently, this was something that was considered a bridge too far in the 1960′s and 1970′s, but now maybe not.

    In that same light, who would have ever thought they’d see a Pope of the Catholic Church bow to a Muslim princess from Jordan? In the past, it would have been inconceivable, but it happened the other day with Francis and Queen Rania. Times are a changing at the Vatican.

  18. Phil_NL says:

    robtbrown,

    I don’t think that Abp Müller’s attitude towards the SSPX matters one bit, given the fact the society itself is not interested in reconcilliation (except if they see it as Rome reconilling to them). They cannot overcome the doctrinal gap, and certainly for the coming years, they would not want to even if they could, for reconcilliation would tear the society apart. The spirit of Williamson is far from exorcised.
    My estimate is that this particular issue will lie dormant for at least another decade or so, which would be the remainder of the expected tenure of Abp Müller at the CDF (he’s 65).

  19. MarkG says:

    Phil:
    Did you read the latest SSPX bulletin insert? What did it sound like to you? I didn’t really understand what they were talking about but it sounded to me like they were asking the faithful and the clergy to hold on and trust the theologians they sent to Rome for the summer and to please keep supporting the new seminary with donations and prayers. Are the theologians in Rome part of talks with the Pope, or just a visit unrelated?

    As you probably already know, there are some splinter groups of clergy that have left the society. Even without the society, the priests that have left always seem to be able to open up their own independent Mass center or chapel and get enough faithful to support it. Or maybe they are taking up secular employment to tide them over?

  20. Tony from Oz says:

    ClaveCoelorum – I am truly gobsmacked. I dare say that – purely on account of his position (and assuming, barring a miracle,, that Mueller is not moved) he will made a Cardinal in due course.

    Mueller is the very quintessence of post-conciliar muddiness (and I am being kind – others would claim him to be nigh heretical). Perhaps Pope Benedict was having an old pals in German academe moment when he appointed Mueller to CDF. A gobsmacking appointment alongside that of Cardinal Braz de Aviz as prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

    To quote the reaction of one worthy regular on this blog on the news of the appointment of Archbishop Mueller to head the CDF in 2012:

    “How can you put such a happy face on what is clearly nothing short of a disaster? To say that he has just read some Liberation Theology is like saying that Lenin just read some Marx! Müller regularly visited Gutiérrez whom Müller considered his mentor, and not just a friend. Müller traveled regularly to Peru to hear and participate in conferences about and promoting Liberation Theology.

    Here is Müller in his own words: “The theology of Gustavo Gutiérrez, independently of how you look at it, is orthodox because it is orthopractic and it teaches us the correct way of acting in a Christian fashion since it comes from true faith…”

    No, this guy hasn’t just read some Liberation Theology, he’s part and parcel with it! Accoring to Rodari (http://www.paolorodari.com/2012/07/02/chi-e-muller-prefetto-dellex-santuffizio-capace-di-annientare-le-resistenze-interne/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PalazzoApostolico+%28Palazzo+Apostolico+-+Diario+Vaticano+di+Paolo+Rodari%29), Müller’s appointment is in part a sign of a positive re-evaluation of Liberation Theology, so obviously, there are those in the Vatican who don’t think the Liberation Theology is for the most part junk to be picked over for spare parts. Perhaps, even the Holy Father thinks there is now more to Liberation Theology than
    junk to be picked over.

    Shall I make mention of Müller’s “theological thoughts” that amount to a denial of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, transubstantiation, the universal salvific nature of the Catholic Church? Shall I make mention of his harsh and over the top criticism of traditionalists and the SSPX?

    To characterize this as anything other than a disaster is to bury one’s head in the sand.”

    Well. quite!!

    Returning to the actual subject at hand – Archbishop Parolin’s appointment – assuming that he is a fan of bolstered ‘collegiality’, he would indeed be a right man in any move by Pope Francis in this direction. We live in a time of ecclesial confusion which cries out for central leadership and clear doctrinal signals. Not the time, methinks, for accelerated doctrinal chaos by way of devolved national episcopal groupthink.

  21. robtbrown says:

    Phil_NL says:
    I don’t think that Abp Müller’s attitude towards the SSPX matters one bit, given the fact the society itself is not interested in reconcilliation (except if they see it as Rome reconilling to them). They cannot overcome the doctrinal gap, and certainly for the coming years, they would not want to even if they could, for reconcilliation would tear the society apart. The spirit of Williamson is far from exorcised.

    Actually, the SSPX is very interested in reconciliation. In the meetings with Rome there was generally doctrinal agreement. By and large, the SSPX received what it wanted.

    There might be a few who break away if there is reconciliation, but nb: The SSPX owns a lot of property. No one, incl Bp Williamson, can leave and take that property with them.


    My estimate is that this particular issue will lie dormant for at least another decade or so, which would be the remainder of the expected tenure of Abp Müller at the CDF (he’s 65).

    Vedremo.

  22. Bea says:

    From what I’ve read about Abp. Pietro Parolin, he seems to be very diplomatic in achieving foreign policy peaceful solutions between the Vatican and other countries. Perhaps that is the reason he was appointed.

    As to Abp. Mueller, his views do not seem too orthodox (Liberation Theology, uncooperative with the promotion of the TLM, even after Pope (em) Benedict was so favorable to it and I too have read of his views as mentioned by Tony from Oz) for that reason I don’t think he should get the red hat, but Pope Francis is Pope Francis and his views may be in conformity with Mueller’s (who knows) . All we can do is pray.

  23. ClavesCoelorum says:

    Tony from Oz:

    Oh dear. I’ve never heard of all that, neither did he appear as one of that type to me. I always considered him pretty orthodox from what I knew: Some statements on marriage, communion for the divorced and remarried, etc. He’s not popular here in Germany at all, which confirmed my feeling. He’s always labelled as “conservative” by German media.

    But why would Pope Benedict (at the time) have him preside over the CDF if he was “nigh heretical”? That’s very hard to believe.

  24. robtbrown says:

    ClavesCoelorum says,

    He’s not popular here in Germany at all, which confirmed my feeling.

    Maybe that’s why he’s now in Rome.

    He’s always labelled as “conservative” by German media.

    From what I’ve been told, on certain matters like sexual morality he is fine. With other questions of dogma, however, he is too much influenced by German philosophy (read: Rahner), e.g., tries to explain the Eucharist without reference to Transubstantiation.

    But why would Pope Benedict (at the time) have him preside over the CDF if he was “nigh heretical”? That’s very hard to believe.

    As a German at the SCDF he could be a counter balance to the German episcopacy.

    IMHO, it is significant that Müller wasn’t named in the Nov 2012 consistory. Sometimes the red hat is used as leverage: “If you want the red hat, make sure that reunion with the SSPX happens.”

  25. Ambrose Jnr says:

    @Robotbrown

    Archbishop Mueller is not nigh heretical…he’s a very orthodox catholic. I know there had been some confusion due to Archbishop’s Mueller’s use of Rahnerian language in his explanation of transsubstantion and the virgin birth in one of his written works, which, when taken out its context, can be made too look dubious.

    In Germany, Mueller is considered to be the ‘hammer of heretics’ and he’s reviled accordingly.

    Archbishop Mueller is a pure Ratzingerian and an outstanding theologian, which explains why Benedict XVI put him in charge of his collected works. The fact that archbishop Mueller has a particular predilection for the poor and is close to Gutierrez does not change the fact that the archbishop is a pure Ratzingerian.

    Archbishop Mueller knows the whole history of catholic doctrine, in particular with regard to the Church Fathers during the first few centuries, so he’s not making an idol out of a fixed 19th century template of catholicism, which seems to irk quite a few SSPX’ers…

    Re: the red hat, you can rest assured that Abp. Mueller will be made, with pride of place, cardinal at the next consistory, provided he doesn’t kick the bucket before that.

  26. ClavesCoelorum says:

    Now, RobptBrown and Ambrose Jnr, that sounds contradictory.

    As long as he is rock-solid on the issues currently at hand (marriage, abortion, Communion for the remarried, women’s ordination, etc. many of which would be criticised in Germany at the moment) that’s fine for me. I don’t think the CDF will have to publish something on Transubstantiation too soon… And if the red hat helps along with the SSPX and exercise pressure on bishops for orthodoxy, that is good. :)