At The Spectator there is a must read piece by Damian Thompson for anyone who is puzzled about what Pope Francis may be up to, especially in regard to the Roman Curia.
Here is an excerpt with my emphases:
As a Latin American who didn’t know his way around Rome when he became pope, he approaches the Curia as an outsider. That is why the cardinals elected him. They did not imagine that this previously austere figure, who even as a prince of the church travelled on buses dressed as a simple priest, would turn on the charm for journalists and become a global celebrity. (In Buenos Aires he rarely gave interviews.) But they did suspect that he would kick the living daylights out of Vatican politicians who seal sleazy deals with Italian businessmen while stuffing their faces with saltimbocca alla romana.
Last year Francis described his ‘court’ as ‘the leprosy of the papacy’. By ‘court’ he may have been referring to monarchical trappings — but employees of the Curia suspected that he was talking about them. For those good priests who found themselves trapped in a sclerotic bureaucracy it came across as a needless insult. ‘Morale is tremendously low,’ says a Vatican source. ‘And matters aren’t helped by Latin American clergy swanning around Rome telling us how they’re bringing us simplicity. There’s a new ultramontanism of the left. You can disagree with anything the church teaches so long as you think Francis is fabulous.’
But neither the Pope’s cheerleaders nor his critics grasp the essence of his mission. The battles between liberals and conservatives, progressives and traditionalists, defined the last pontificate — not this one.
The Pope has begun his attack on the Curia by placing its scandal-ridden financial structures under the control of a new department with unprecedented powers: the Secretariat for the Economy. Its first prefect is Cardinal George Pell, the conservative former Archbishop of Sydney.
When it comes to reform of the entire Curia, Francis is advised by the so-called ‘C9’ committee of nine cardinals, of whom George Pell is one. It’s chaired by Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras — a charismatic pastor who is unremittingly hostile to ‘neoliberal’ America. He shoots from the hip. In January he told Archbishop (now Cardinal) Gerhard Müller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to stop seeing the world in black and white. This was a bit rich coming from Rodriguez, who in 2002 suggested that America’s Jewish-controlled media was playing up the paedophile scandals to punish the Catholic church for its support of Palestine.
How will the C9 reform the bits of the Curia covering doctrine, evangelisation, clergy, foreign affairs and so on? To repeat: major changes on marriage and homosexuality aren’t on the agenda. In October, a synod of bishops will discuss the family: since it’s almost certain to reject calls to admit divorced people to the Eucharist, Francis needs to lower expectations. He doesn’t want to find himself in the position of Paul VI, who provoked a hysterical reaction when he vetoed proposals to allow artificial birth control. [It might be too late for that.]
What is on the agenda is ‘decentralisation’, the current buzzword. The problem is that, while taking power out of the hands of Vatican bureaucrats is a good thing, giving authority to national bishops’ conferences isn’t much better. [Disaster, more like.] Consider the mediocrity of the English hierarchy, made up of grey, jargon-spouting liberals. Here we encounter one of Francis’s weaknesses: his ignorance of the Anglosphere. He doesn’t speak English. He has never been to the United States.
Wow. There is some hard-hitting commentary here.