Robert 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.
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.