Curial reshuffling to take place?

I have of late not been very happy with Andrea Tornielli, who seems to have jettisoned objectivity.  However, at La Stampa he posts that there are perhaps some big changes coming to the Roman Curia.

On Monday the Pope will sit down with heads of curial dicasteries before he meets with the Gang of 8+1 (1=SecState).  It is rumored that the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Council for Culture may be combined.  Card. Ravasi, now at Culture, might wind up head of the new dicastery.  The head of Education, Zenon Card. Grocholewski, recently turned 75.

Another move might fuse together the Pontifical Councils of Justice and Peace, Migrants, Cor Unum, the Academy for Life with Card. Maradiaga as head.

I have been hypothesizing that the Pope wants to pare down the number of curial Cardinals (and the Archbishop Secretaries that go with them).  This would weaken the Curia’s influence overall and would concentrate power in the hands of a very few who would be especially close to this Pope.  Also, I see the demotion of Card. Burke not just as a way of sending a chill through a whole sector of the Church, but also a preparatory move to smash together the three tribunals, which would reduce the number of their cardinals from two to one.  It is possible that there could also be created a “Moderator of the Curia” position.


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  1. JBS says:

    As long as there’s a good man at the CDF and at Divine Worship, and as long as they’re allowed to make a difference, I’ll be happy.

  2. Father, this isn’t a very effective strategy to me. It can go either way. You get a “moderate/liberal” pope, and then it’s an oligarchy of the not-so-good kind when he does political power plays and puts his favourites into those precious few positions, which of course will affect what cases win or lose (e.g. CDF, sacraments, PCED for the Latin Mass), and what each dicastery produces in terms of major pastoral/practical documents. That also means less voices to reign in other wayward curia members, and, gasp, should it be deemed necessary to fraternally correct him, the Pope himself.

    At the very best, yes this might work well for a more “Pius X” type of pope and we get a solid bastion in the dicasteries, as well as that curia/dicastery representatives or secretaries (who got removed in the new setup) won’t contradict or say something contrary to the other member/lead person. However, I can forsee accusations shot at the pope from liberal clergy and all forms of media (save the Rad Cath Reactionary Blogosphere) that the Church is a oligarchial-dictatorship that has strayed away from Pope Francis’ “Church of mercy” after Francis makes this move.

    Honestly, why do we even have dicasteries and the Curia in the first place? Sometimes maybe a one man show with the Pope making all major decisions and approval sounds better. It seems as if the monarchy form of governance combined with servant leadership, is the ideal order of governance surrounding Christ anyways, especially considering that we celebrated in both forms (albeit a month apart), the Feast of Christ the King, and multiple kingdom analogies surround him in Scripture. I don’t recall any passages taking about Jesus and democratic governments, save giving Caesar what is due to Caesar, but when it came to Christ HIMSELF, kingdom analogies are abound, not democracies.

    P.S. Unrelated, who’s this Father Juan Duhlsdorf guy on the internet? Your evil alter ego?

  3. disco says:


    Liberals don’t think like that. You’re only authoritarian if you are orthodox and/or conservative. Liberal dictators are just strong leaders.

  4. Traductora says:

    The Pope is already functioning on the Obama level in terms of doing what he wants, appointing only complaisant subordinates (and getting rid of ones who aren’t) and ignoring procedures and safeguards. I don’t see any problem with streamlining or consolidating where it might be helpful, but this strikes me as a move to concentrate his power. Especially by putting Maradiaga in charge of a significant area…

    The Church may not be a democracy, but it’s not a dictatorship, either. Even in purely administrative terms, Peter didn’t stomp on the heads of the other Apostles, and he was obviously not right all the time – witness his betrayal of Our Lord – and nobody expected him to be.

    To me, these are very disturbing things. I’m all in favor of doing away with bureaucracy, which is the bane of Europe and becoming the bane of the US, but I don’t like the idea that these things are actually being done to enhance centralization. The Pope has several times done things that have undermined individual local bishops (not only removing them, but getting involved in parish or diocese-level matters) and also by going to the media before he mentions the supposed problem to the bishop in question. Oddly enough, all of the bishops I have heard of who have been subjected to this treatment are orthodox, frequently Opus, are fairly recent BXVI appointments and are actually having great success in their dioceses with vocations, mass attendance, etc. The Pope’s intervention has been aimed entirely at courting the media and has left these bishops in extremely difficult positions.

    I think we’re going to see two things: reduction of power of individual bishops – all, by definition, successors of the Apostles – and a concentration of power in national bishops’ conferences, which will be manipulated in such a way that they will be like the German conference. Oddly enough, the USCCB, which was horrendous for many a long year, has improved so much with the appointments in the last 10 years or so that they may actually be the ones to stand up and defend the Faith when Peter gets confused.

  5. Robbie says:

    Edward Pentin reports Cardinal Robert Sarah is likely to be named Prefect of CDW.

  6. Charles E Flynn says:

    Here is a perspective on the papacy that looks back over several generations:

    Wanted: A More Reserved Papal Style, by Fr. Mark Pilon, for The Catholic Thing.

  7. Siculum says:

    Moderator of the Curia? Like a typical/garden variety diocese has?

    Is this [all] part of an ongoing effort to “streamline” Rome’s Curia so it looks more like the typical diocesan bureaucracy, rather than the organizational head of the universal Church? If so, is there an effort afoot to make the relationship between Rome and the other dioceses of the world yet more collegial and less hierarchical?

    In past years, I wouldn’t have necessarily minded Justice & Peace and Cor Unum being merged with PAFL (which does good and important work). They shouldn’t be separate in the first place — at least, in principle. But — with the way things are now — if we just throw the life issues simply “among” and not “above” all other social justice issues, than we risk… well, I just don’t want to see PAFL gutted by any malignant administrators.

  8. Emilio says:

    Maradiaga as an active member of the Curia? Heaven help us… He has already been emboldened enough by this Pontificate to come out as a leftist, already smacking down and making fun of Cardinal Müller. He is one of Piero Marini’s most influential supporters, in case you are also fearing the vacancy at the CDW. I can’t think of a worse way to reform the Curia for the better than to concentrate much more power in the hands of those who already have your ear.

  9. TNCath says:

    Maradiaga is perhaps the most dangerous man in the Pope’s inner circle. Get ready, Church, we are in for some very awful days ahead.

  10. truthfinder says:

    The curia needs to be reformed, but this just sounds like a monster in the making. I think sometimes Vatican bureaucracy can actually be a good thing – it helps to give relatively unimportant but time consuming jobs to those who are otherwise threats to the church. Remember that the best demotion is an obscure promotion. Heaven help us.

  11. majuscule says:

    How about:

    “Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah strongly tipped to become next prefect of Congregation for Divine Worship.”

    (Tweet from Edward Pentin)

  12. jflare says:

    “Also, I see the demotion of Card. Burke not just as a way of sending a chill through a whole sector of the Church”

    Huh. That’s rather a different take from the frame of mind that I thought I’d seen a few months ago.

  13. Spade says:

    So, guess we are supposed to listen to Africa after all.

  14. bposullivan says:

    So, Cardinal Sarah isn’t exactly a left-wing crony in the pope’s inner circle, right? Even Rorate Caeli calls him one of the strongest conservative voices at the Synod. And another outspoken conservative, Cardinal Pell, was one of the Pope’s most recent appointments as dicastery head before this, and he was given one of the most powerful jobs. These decisions don’t make him seem like an autocrat who wants only “yes men” around him. Maybe he’s open to having advisers who disagree with him, as long as he believes they are in turn open to taking direction from him.

    I think it’s true that he wants a smaller, weaker curia, but maybe consolidating power in his own hands is at the most a short-term reason for that. He probably does, after all, have to consolidate power in order to be effective at bringing about any kind of reform. But the long-term reason might be that a smaller, weaker curia would leave more power at Francis’s beloved “peripheries,” and especially in the hands of local bishops, their Conferences, and their Synod.

  15. JBS says:


    We should listen to them, they just “should not tell us too much what we have to do”.

  16. robtbrown says:

    So much for the Abp Marini to SCDW rumors (and fear).

    I have no problem with combining some of these smaller Curial offices and putting them under one Cardinal.

    Having a Moderator of the Curia is a good idea because too much power has been concentrated in the Sec of State–at the expense of the pope. Of course, this creates the problem of the position of the Sostituto and the chain of command.

  17. robtbrown says:

    I also have to wonder whether the pope has now realized that more than once he allowed himself to be backed into a corner. And no one in the Curia influenced him to let it happen.

  18. TMKent says:

    Some may recall, back in 2012 when Benedict was planning on sending a delegations to Lebanon to help the Syrian refugees (later cancelled because if heightened tensions) it was Cardinal Sarah that was chosen.

  19. Supertradmum says:

    After Cardinal Kasper’s horribly prejudiced, racist statement against the African cardinals, there must be several black appointments. Must.

  20. robtbrown says:

    Supertradmum says:

    After Cardinal Kasper’s horribly prejudiced, racist statement against the African cardinals, there must be several black appointments.

    There are more African cardinals than there are German. In fact, there have been more influential Africans in the Curia than Germans. Obviously, Arinze comes to mind, but also the late Cardinal Gantin, who was head of the Cong of Bishops–and excellent in every sense.

    Outside of Cardinal Ratzinger there really haven’t been any recent Germans of note in the Curia.

  21. Tim Ferguson says:

    Müller? Kasper? Cordes?
    and going back not too far in history – Bea, Mayer, Stickler (Austrian, to be accurate)

    I think there have been some notable Germans in the curia recently. And mind you, when we’re comparing Germany with Africa, we’re comparing a country with 26 million Catholics to a whole continent with over 175 million Catholics.

  22. robtbrown says:

    Tim Ferguson,

    Müller and Ratzinger count as one.

    Kasper and Cordes did not hold significant posts in the Vatican. And Bea’s post was not important although he was active in the Ecumenical push.

    The powerful positions are State, SCDF, and Bishops. All have direct impact on the life of the Church. The SCDW would seem to have been important, but in fact the work in mangling the liturgy was done by the Consilium, long before Mayer was Prefect.

    Of course, there are many more Catholics in Africa, but German influence on the Church has been huge during the last half of the last century, mostly negative excepting JRatzinger.

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