I have been asking around a little about the new Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Peter, S.E. Angelo Comastri, whom I knew very little about. Here is what I am getting from people.
First, it seems that His Excellency, while perhaps not having a strongly conservative pedigree, during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II made Loretto into a major center of Marian spirituality according to the Pope’s design and played a good role in the Pope’s Marian program for the Church. There are some Italian bishops who over time made real shifts in their points of view and Comastri seems to be one of them. This is a world-wide phenomenon. Also, Mons. Comastri is said to be an extremely kind gentleman and very loyal to the Holy See. I have not met him yet.
Second, as one friend put it, "if Mons. Comastri’s liturgy is half as good as his loyalty to the Pope, St. Peter’s Basilica will be seeing better days."
His Eminence Claudio Card. Hummes, OFM, will be the new prefect of Clergy. I have met him on several occasions and had the chance to talk with him one on one and pick his brains. He is very kind and answers questions frankly. In describing the situation in his diocese of São Paulo, one of the largest cities in the world with all its attendant problems, H.E. was deeply concerned that many in Rome didn’t understand the severity of how over 1% of Catholics per year are bleeding off into sects and falling away. He spoke about this with great passion. This fellow has been Archbishop of one of the world’s toughest dioceses. He has great experience.
Pope Benedict knows what Card. Hummes is all about. By bringing Card. Hummes to Rome, Benedict has not brought in a yes-man or someone who will sit on his hands. Furthermore, His Holiness can now put someone of his choosing into the critical see of São Paulo who will fit his strategy. In his new role, he will be more conservative than he has been perceived to be, maybe not because he is, but because he has to be. Moreover, Card. Castrillon Hoyos now may focus on the work of the Pont. Comm. "Ecclesia Dei" which is going to have more to do pretty soon.
Very often conservatives think that just because you are conservative you are automatically going to be good at everything. That is pure fantasy. Benedict needs to find people who are capable of implementing the things he wants done. This or that conservative might not actually be able to get the job done. There is wisdom in putting someone who has a chance of succeeding in a job even if he has not in the past been 100% in harmony with what you stand for or don’t automatically agree with what you say just because you say it. It is more important to get things done than simply have good plans and then fail because you didn’t find the right people.
Benedict takes his own advice. He thinks before acting.