Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Curial Reforming Dreaming

I'm throwing this out there just to make sure I beat the Holy Father to the punch. If'we're to believe the reports that internal reform is the big priority and that Pope Francis will soon be getting his hands on the secret report commissioned by his predecessor, there should be some big moves on the horizon. I'm not sure that Pope Francis will have much flexibility to sit on this stuff. Once the ax starts falling, the associates of the dearly departed will start to scramble and aim to make their own ousting that much more difficult.

With that being said, here's my exercise in absolute presumption as I assemble my Curial Dream Team. For the sake of brevity, I'm only dealing with the Congregations + the SecState.

And what about the all-important Secretary of State job? I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that both Cardinals Bertone and Sodano have been disasters. It's also pretty clear that both of those guys seem pretty terrified by Cardinal Scola, since the post-conclave reports have indicated that they were both doing their best to keep him from being elected. Cardinal Scola has never really been an inside-the-beltway guy for Curial affairs, and if Bertone/Sodano don't like him, that's good enough for me. Besides, a lot of the staffers in the Secretariat are Italian, so he wouldn't be completely alien to them. Cardinal Scola would therefore be my pick for the role of Stato.

Next, there's Dottrina, the prefect of the CDF. This is a big deal because it's not only for dealing with heretics but also with the SSPX and abuse cases. This is where I'd put Cardinal Burke. For one thing, he doesn't seem to be afraid of anybody. Next, he's the top guy on canon law. Unfortunately, a lot of these problems are going to have canon law issues tied to them, and there have been efforts to loophole around the current Code of Canon Law. Of course, that his orthodoxy is unimpeachable helps, too. Oh, and I'd call in Bishop Athanasius Schneider to be the CDF Secretary. Make him the doctrinal watch-dog and let Cardinal Burke work on the other issues.

This puts the top two positions in the Curia in the hands of guys who will be feared, which I think should be the #1 consideration for who gets picked.

Next up, Cardinal Ranjith gets drafted for the Congregation of Divine Worship. From all prior reports, the initial reason he left Rome was because the other Curia folks hated him, which now looks like a good reason to put him in a position of real authority. Cardinal Canizares Llovera can move over to Ecclesia Dei, where he'd probably be decently effective.

Here's a wild idea for the Congregation of the Eastern Churches. How about an Easterner? Hell, anybody but +Sandri or somebody else with his utter lack of respect for the job. I don't know who that would be, but I think serious consideration should be given to making Kiev a patriarchate, with Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk as the patriarch. We've screwed around with this issue and the Orthodox for long enough and basically left our Ukrainian brethren out on a limb without much support. Put him in charge of the Congregation, and let things go from there.

I think you could probably leave the Causes of Saints alone. Ditto with the Congregation for the Clergy, unless there's a better role out there for +Piacenza.

Right now, Cardinal João Braz de Aviz is over the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life. This is allegedly over the desire to have somebody with a less harsh tone than Cardinal Rode. Frankly, harsh tones are probably what are needed right now, so I'm going with Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne. He's Opus Dei and has a bad rap in the press for cracking down on liberation theologians. That's a good thing, though. He also doesn't have a lot of Curial ties, so he might not be beholden to anybody.

By most accounts, Cardinal Ouellet is a good guy for handling the Congregation of Bishops. I honestly don't know too much about how he's worked things out there. Since I can't really come up with an argument for why he should go, I have to think he should stay.

The Congregation for Catholic Education was a tough one. Considering what happened to the seminaries when nobody was minding the store, this position should be held by somebody fearless and unwilling to budge. Maybe Cardinal Caffarra. His orthodoxy is solid, and he'd keep a close watch on any doctrinal or moral aberrations that would try to surface among the next generation of priests. The problem here is that he is a bit on the old side, so I'm not sure if this might be something  he could handle.

Finally, there's the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. First off, I think there should be some clarity between this entity and the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. It looks like a lot of inefficiency and overlap there. Second, and I'm sure this will cause some gasps, but the Pontifical Councils for Interreligious Dialogue and for Promoting Christian Unity should be abolished, with all of their functions being reduced to the point of evangelization. I'm not sure I've seen any more wasteful expenditure of Church funds than on functions for these two groups. It's a bunch of prelates jet-setting around the world and accomplishing nothing except occasionally drafting documents that are scandalous to the Faith.

Ditch the whole concept of dialogue. Let's face it. When St. Francis went out to confront the Sultan, he wasn't going there to "dialogue" with him. He went to convert him and every other Muslim he could find.

For this job, I don't know who I'd take. For some reason, I look at Cardinal Sarah as possibly the guy who could pull this off. He's certainly dealt with all types given that (a) he's from Guinea and (b) he's been running Cor Unum. He comes across as staunch without being egotistical. It just seems like this is a job best left for a non-European since it means that he won't be as vulnerable to claims of "Western imperialists spreading a white man's religion among the noble savages" or to notions that he's "disconnected from the developing world" or whatever other such nonsense is out there. For the Western press that is always looking to make people of color into raging liberals, he would be the perfect foil.

Those are my picks. Where did I go wrong? Who do you think would be better. Please recall that these are who I would like to see in these jobs, not who I think will actually get tapped for them.


Titus said...

The picks don't sound bad, but why assume the structure will be remaining the same? There could be a lot of room for structural shakeups, especially among the secretariat of state.

Anonymous said...

You know better than I do. This is interesting. I hope you have some of it right. I so agree that the interreligious yakking and Christian unity is super negative and more dreamin' the Catholic-Jew thing really needs tamping down, more like a bulldozer is needed. And Cardinal Caffarra is my adopted Cardinal and I'm going to keep him.

BONIFACE said...

I would be shocked if Pope Francis actually appointed these individuals. My prediction is he floods the Curia with Latin Americans who think like him.

Throwback said...

I know. This is my dream not his.

I remain unsure of what "thinking like him will entail when it comes to this priority of Curial clean-up. He isn't really mentioning it in any of his speeches.

Anonymous said...

He's not mentioning the curia specifically, but I think that's because he doesn't want to be "self-referential"; he reportedly said in his general congregation speech, and has said elsewhere, that the church becomes sick when it gets too self-referential instead of looking outward towards its "existential margins." So he talks about the need for forgiveness, the need to take joy in the cross, and other matters that could apply tot he curia but also apply to people who are paying attention around the world. And he says in the general congregation that the need to move towards the existential margins shapes the kind of reform that are needed--surely, that would include curial reform so that the church can be less bogged down in its own scandals. I don't know that his idea of reform would involve Ranjith imposing certain conservative views of the liturgy, though; if Ranjith comes back to the curia, maybe he'd be better at Peace and Justice or even State, since he is reputedly passionate about social justice as well as liturgy.

Throwback said...

I hate to say this, but I have no idea what the Holy Father means in his shpiel about "self-referential sickness" and "existential margins."

Anonymous said...

I think by "self-referential" he means primarily concerned about itself and its own grandeur and internal issues. By "existential margins" he seems to mean threats to peoples' material, moral and spiritual well-being, even in parts of society that aren't close to the church. So I think he's saying that the church has to engage truthfully and lovingly with the world, on behalf of the disenfranchised and marginalized, and avoid being distracted by intramural wrangling. The Holy Thursday foot-washing is an example; he seems more concerned with expressing love and respect for these despised young people than he is with the letter of the law, or with the more trivial among formalities of ritual.