Curia Averted

nonagonRobert Mickens describes and assesses reform-in-progress, an assessment of doing (or not doing) rather than just write about it in a document. (In that light, I wonder if I should reconsider the ten years of picking through Church docs here.)

With synods pushed to the forefront, the curia is subjugated to these gatherings of bishops. The writer’s assessment:

In this way, he would bring about a reform of the Curia simply by circumventing and neutralizing it.

In fact, he has already done much of that over the past three years. Under previous popes, especially John Paul II, the 20-some Roman congregations and pontifical councils churn out a steady flow of documents. The universal church was swimming in a deluge of Vatican guidelines, directives, decrees, notifications, declarations and so forth.

But not so under Pope Francis.

The torrent of texts has been reduced to a mere trickle.

Trickle, indeed.

What do you make of this point, the advent of a sort of “kitchen” curia:

Rather, the pope has relied heavily on theological help from “the ends of the earth,” as he would put it. It is pretty well established that his primary ghostwriter is Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, rector of the Catholic University of Argentina in Buenos Aires. And he has shown his high regard for and reliance on the thinking of Cardinal Walter Kasper since the first days of his pontificate.

Francis also consults regularly with some of his Jesuit confreres on the other side of the Tiber — such as Fr Antonio Spadaro, editor of Civiltà Cattolica, and certain professors at the Gregorian University — to help in his discernment.

The Holy Father is mocked and criticized on some TP sites for this ghostwriter and these influences. But what of that? Cardinal Ratzinger certainly produced volumes of documents and books in the 1978-2005 papacy. Were they something less because they didn’t emanate from the pen of the pope? I wonder if the grumbling is really more about the sidelining of voices formerly in the pocket of the previous pope. Or the setting aside of certain celebrity heroes to the Catholic Right. I suppose there’s a liturgical matter …

He has also neutralized the Congregation for Divine Worship, though the traditionalist prefect, Cardinal Robert Sarah, has been waging a sort of international media campaign in an attempt to influence the universal church. Francis certainly has not given him enough to do in Rome.

Maybe the good cardinal is better off in a Rome office than an African chancery. And if his appointment is perceived as influential, well, the one document forthcoming on liturgy hit on the Mandatum in a good and updated way.

I think well of local bishops and conferences. These guys are in the trenches, sleeves up, sweating hard for the Church. They don’t need finger-pointers and -waggers from over the Tiber.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in bishops, Church News, Commentary, Liturgy. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Curia Averted

  1. Devin Rice says:

    Archbishop Fernandez once said something to the effect that the Roman Curia is not an essential structure but only the Pope and bishops and this is correct. The Pope can ask anyone he wants for advice. I know that a few local priests who were definitely Benedict supporters also complained of the long list of documents from the Vatican (one could also add from the USCCB). As for the Benedict hangovers in the Curia, + Ouellette appears to be doing well. There does seem to be a bit especially with Cardinal Sarah.

    Looking particularly at Cardinal Sarah, you could divine a bit from the public sphere. From the news cycle, the African prelates seem to be a bit more concrete and blunt (courageously telling the truth or harsh/insensitive depending of your POV) and Pope Francis is definitely much more circumspect. I can imagine Pope Francis telling the Cardinal to continue the legacy of Benedict’s liturgical ideals and Sarah taking it at face value thinking “if he didn’t mean it, he wouldn’t have said it” whereas others may see it as a face saving measure or at least to be taken in context to tone down the rhetoric a bit more. If one were to make a sitcom about the Vatican, it would be a gem of a plot line.

    In the long run, the Pope like everyone else in similar governing positions needs to have public proxy’s and assistants to help govern the Church. And people need to know that those are speaking for you whatever there own personal sentiment may be. You don’t want to be in a situation like President Bush’s first term with Colin Powell where there was a great chasm. The pope could easily forbid public interviews for curia officials and they would obey. Or he could send Cardinal Sarah to a diocese like his predecessor.

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