Important appointments made by Pope Benedict

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.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. This is an inspired choice.

    Starting with himself, Cardinal Oulette [Ouellet] can reshape the Church in Quebec in the next two years when almost half of the bishops retire.

    The Holy Father has done a tremendous service to Quebec and Canada with this choice.

    I would expect that he will no where to look for priests that will have what it takes to lead a resurgence of the faith in Quebec! (and I’m hopeful that there are some!)

  2. TJerome says:

    David in T.O., I agree, and I might add that it is probably a positive and a means for re-invigorating the French speaking members of the Catholic Church to have a substantive role in the direction of the Church through this appointment. This move should not only benefit the Church in Quebec and Canada, but France and Belgium as well.

  3. dhgyapong says:

    I agree this is an inspired choice. It’s no coincidence that his motto is “ut unum sint.”

    So if Pope Benedict XVI is the pope of Christian unity, he has chosen a man after his heart for this key position.

    I believe Cardinal Ouellet has turned the tide in Quebec. The mudflats are still showing, the incoming tide is barely glimmering on the horizon, but it’s coming. You can see it in the young people working in his diocese, the new religious movements such as Famille Marie-Jeunesse and others that are on fire for Jesus Christ.

    We have been very blessed to have him here in Canada for seven years.


  4. Cardinal Oulette [Ouellet] has also invited and canonically erected the FSSP in Quebec City (something I will add we may not see for a long-time here in Toronto with the unfortuate departure of their Apostolate and I will declare that I was the Schola Master) and I believe re-opened the Minor Seminary.

    Yes, this is good for Quebec and Canada and as TJerome has said, France and Belgium as well.

  5. Mitchell NY says:

    Does his Excellency speak Latin as well? When ever they discuss foreign languages that these prelates are fluent in I never see Latin mentioned. Isn’t that important for the heads of offices?

  6. Mrs. Bear says:

    I attended th Eucharistic Congress and the seminarians from my group, along with many other seminarians, were invited to an evening with Cardinal Ouellet. They were so impressed with him. He made the announcement at that time that he was reopening the Minor Seminary in Quebec City. We knew that this was a huge, significant move by the Cardinal.

    He will be sorely missed by the Canadian Church – but he will have his hand in reshaping the Quebec church. I know people just up the river from Quebec who have the date of their Cardinal’s birthday circled and I bet they will not be as stressed about who will be chosen to take over that large city – knowing that Cardinal Ouellet will have a hand in that choice.

    The successor of Cardinal Ouellet in Quebec City will also be the Primate of Canada.
    This will be a hard decision. Bilingual with French as your first language yet orthodox and able to communicate splendidly.
    They should change the location of the Primate of Canada to Toronto – but I am biased.

    I don’t know many of the bishop in the Province of Quebec.

    But I do like Aux. Bishop Noel Simard from the diocese of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

  7. Oh, good news :) I work for a Catholic company, and my boss just came running out of his office exclaiming his overjoyousness at this news a few minutes ago. May the Lord strengthen and protect Cardinal Ouellet to serve Him ever more faithfully!! Deo gratias.

  8. Sedgwick says:

    C’mon, Father, it’s time to convince your friend John Allen to get away from that disgraceful rag and go work for a real Catholic publication.

  9. thesheepcat says:

    I’m thrilled for the universal Church, but Cardinal Ouellet leaves mighty big shoes for his successor to fill. It is good that he will be able the guide the renewal of Quebec’s episcopate, so many of whose members are due to retire soon:

  10. TNCath says:

    An important and timely appointment! Okay, so, let’s see now: we now have Cardinal Ouellet and Archbishop (soon to be Cardinal) Burke on the Congregation for Bishops. What a dynamic duo they will make regarding appointments to the United States! Prayers and best wishes to Cardinal Ouellet.

  11. simo says:

    I know I’m off topic but I read something curious I would like to understand. And I didn’t get to post under the appropriate topic yesterday. Recently when Pope Benedict was handing out Pallium’s he left his at the tomb of Pope Celestine V, the only Pope ever to resign if I remember right. Why did he do that?

  12. Tom in NY says:

    Let us pray the Spirit guides all of today’s nominees in their appointments.

    Father del Covalo has an interesting title in the Italian language announcement, “magnifico.” Other rectors and university presidents can only wish.

    Salutationes omnibus.

  13. robtbrown says:


    It’s the 800th year of Celestine’s birth.

  14. Legisperitus says:

    Mitchell NY: I don’t think Latin should be considered a foreign language. ;)

    But yes, facility in Latin is not only important for the head of a congregation but is actually a requirement for all priests under Canon Law.

  15. DT says:

    Long live Benedict!!

  16. robtbrown says:

    Father del Covalo has an interesting title in the Italian language announcement, “magnifico.” Other rectors and university presidents can only wish.
    Comment by Tom in NY

    The rector of the Angelicum is known as the Rector Magnificus.

  17. Mrs. Bear says:

    It’s frustrating though that many of secular media outlets here in Canada are using, in the headline, the phrase “controversial” priest and then mentions that he has never apologized for sexual abuse issues and other issues!
    It seems no one knows that back in 2007 prior to the Eucharistic Congress an apology and reconciliation statement was made by him regarding abuse.

    They also comment on the fact that he has said very recently that abortion is wrong even in the case of rape.

    Can you say Canadian liberal media bias?

  18. Maltese says:

    I’m hoping this man is made a Cardinal soon

    Cardinal F

  19. Genna says:

    This Pope is casting his net far and wide and drawing the sound men in. He is reaching well beyond his own pontificate.

  20. dhgyapong says:

    One thing that really annoys me, in addition to the nasty lamestream media coverage he’s getting as “controversial” etc., is the New York Times has a little pronunciation thingy for his name.

    Rachel Donadio writes for the NYT:
    “At least one Canadian abuse victims’ group has criticized Cardinal Ouellet (pronounced WULL-ay) for not apologizing for abuse.”

    Ugh, first, for her even bringing this up, as it is a smear. But secondly, his name is not pronounceed WULL-ay.

    It is wull-ETTE, with the “t” on the end pronounced and the accent on the second syllable.

    In case anybody doubts me, here’s the cardinal saying his name:



  21. Prof. Basto says:

    Rorate’s analysis of the promotion of Archbishop Fisichella is precise: “It would seem that, with his novel doctrine on tolerating abortions in situations of “emotional distress”, Archbishop Fisichella will have the utmost success in “new evangelization” efforts in cocktail parties and formal dinner events from Berlin to Paris, from London to New York, from Madrid to Buenos Aires. The new Pontifical Council is brought forth with a stain the size of Brazil… Auguri, monsignor Fisichella!”

    By promoting Archbishop “Rino” the Holy Father places him in line for a place in the Sacred College, and thus rewards a man responsible for the embarassing and scandalous “Recife Affair” in which Mons. Fisichella, then President of the Pontifical Academy FOR LIFE, made excuses that amount to the toleration of abortion. Fisichella criticized an orthodox and faithful Metropolitan Archbishop who, exercising his lawful authority within his particular Church, applied the Church’s canon law and declared excommunications latae sententiae for those involved in an abortion case. After his defense of abortion in certain circumnstances, Fisichella ends up appointed as the man in charge of the New Evangelization effort.

    What happened to the enforcer of the Faith?

  22. Animadversor says:

    Deborah, thanks for that. I had imagined that the t at the end of his surname was silent.

  23. jlmorrell says:


    He should have been put in charge of the Congregation for Bishops – then Cardinal at the next consistory :~)

  24. robtbrown says:

    If the cardinal cannot appoint orthodox staff to his own seminary, I have no idea how he is going to appoint orthodox bishops to the universal Church.
    Comment by Deimater

    He won’t because it will not be his job. Bishops are nominated by the pope. Of course, the Prefect does have power, and there was a difference between the Congregation run by Gantin. On the other hand, the nominations are the result of a complex process involving the Prefect, the Sec (who seems to be a Re clone), the members, the nunzio, and certain powerful members of a nation’s episcopacy.

    IMHO, of equal importance is that another Sodano ally is out of power. When BXVI became pope, Sodano was Sec of State, Sandri the Sostituto, and Re was at Bishops. That made it possible to frustrate whatever BXVI wanted to do.

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