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Friday, June 15, 2012

Major shake-up expected at the top in the Vatican

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Nearly a dozen senior leadership positions are filled with dignitaries beyond the retirement age of 75. Will the Curia become more international?

In the Vatican, a number of high ranking staff changes are awaited. Among them, it is not for certain that the Cardinal Secretary of State will remain in office, who is currently the focus of the "Vatileaks" attack. But there are currently almost a dozen senior positions with occupied by dignitaries above the pensionable age of 75. And even if no relationship between leaks scandal and retirement exists, the appointment will this time attract special attention. In addition, it will be possible to observe whether the Curia becomes more Italian or more international  For in the discussion about "Vatileaks", the influence and work of the Italians plays a significant role.

Already at the weekend, Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of the librarian and archivist of the "Holy Roman Church," Cardinal Raffaele Farina (78). It is unusual that at the same time a successor was not appointed and was due to complications. For the office, which usually goes to a deserving elderly member of the Curia, has already has been turned down more than once, it is heared.

Of course, the focus of interest is the CDF whose prefect, William Levada on Friday was 76 years old and who is known to be tired of office. It is unclear however, whether Benedict XVI will undertake the change in office prior to a decision on the SSPX, which could drag on. As a candidate for the succession to Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Canadian Marc Ouellet (68) is cited, or the Italian-American Joseph Augustine Di Noia (68), who is currently secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments . The President of the Family Council, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli (75), who has just organized with much bravado Milan's World Family Day, can reckon on an extension of office.

In contrast, Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, secretary of thePontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue , who was seventy-five in January , is expected soon soon to retire. The same applies to his fellow-countryman and Deputy Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples , Pierluigi Vacchelli. The vacant post of "Third Man" at the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples has been filled last Tuesday. In place of Massimo Cenci, who died suddenly, the Pope appointed a native of Sri Lanka, theologian Indunil Janakaratne Kodithuwakku Kankanamalage.

Long unoccupied is the post of the Under Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity . Staff changes are expected in the medium term In the management of the ecclesiastical courts. A native of Poland Antoni Stankiewicz, Dean of the Roman Rota, reached the age of seventy-five in October 2010. Gianfranco Girotti, "Regent" of the Apostolic Penitentiary reached that age limit in April.

The question remains, in the context of the upcoming appointments, how much the representation of Italians will change in the Curia. In the "small government departments," the pontifical councils, there are Italian Presidents in half (six out of twelve), in one third of the congregations (three out of nine) - more than at the beginning of the pontificate of Benedict XVI in 2005. In the College of Cardinals, there are 30 Italians in the 124 potential participants in the next conclave.

The German-speaking countries under the Bavarian Pope are represented at the top of the Curia with only one head of department (the Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity), a secretary (the German Bishop Josef Clemens,  Pontifical Council for the Laity ) and an Under-Secretary (Monsignor Udo Breitbach, Congregation for Bishops)

Therefore, the speculation about a move to Rome of the Regensburg Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller (64) is particularly persistent. Vatican experts already saw him in half a dozen different high offices from the Congregation for Bishops to the Congregation for Catholic Education, even including the archives( Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church), The Vatican expert for the magazine "L'Espresso" Sandro Magister mentioned the theologian who is competent in several languages even for the "pole position" of the CDF.

The guessing game wassparked by the recent appointment of Mueller as a member of two other Vatican agencies. He has thus four Roman tasks - and is committed to the Vatican more than some cardinals who live in Rome. The question remains whether this signals an imminent move to the Eternal City - or whether the Pope would like to bind him more closely to Rome, because he (initially) will remain in his German diocese.
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