In Rome, Cardinal Versaldi comes to the education chair

versaldi-2Pope Francis today appointed Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi to the longest string of functions and offices that a cardinal in the Curia can conceivably have. The 71-year-old cardinal, who headed the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See from 2011 to today, is now all of the following:

  • Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (for Educational Institutions)
  • President of the Pontifical Work for Ecclesiastical Vocations
  • Patron of the Pontifical Superior Institute of Latinità
  • Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies
  • Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology
  • Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music
  • Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Gregorian University

All this while he already was, and continues to be

  • Member of the College for the review of appeals by clergy accused of delicta graviora
  • Pontifical Delegate for the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception

In short, Cardinal Versaldi is now in charge of the educational work of the Holy See, with one exception: responsibility for the seminaries lies with the Congregation for Clergy. Cardinal Versaldi succeeds Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, who retires at the age of 75. The Polish cardinal held the positions listed above since 1999. He remains, like Cardinal Versaldi, a Member of the College for the review of appeals by clergy accused of delicta graviora, which was established by the Holy Father in January.

As the Vatican is in the middle of a major overhaul of its economic and financial activities, it will be ineresting to see who will succeed Cardinal Versaldi as of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.

Cardinal Versaldi was born in 1943 and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Vercelli in 1967. He was vicar general under the later Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and was appointed as Bishop of Alessandria (della Paglia) in 2007. In 2011 he came to Rome to become President of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See. In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI created him Cardinal-Deacon of Sacro Cuore di Gesù a Castro Pretorio. The cardinal is a member of the Congregation for Bishops, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

In 2013, Cardinal Versaldi showed himself to be firmly in the camp of those who see no merit in changing the Church’s teaching on marriage.

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The cardinal’s mailbox – 12,000 signatures against a non-existent policy

eijkCardinal Eijk is going to have a full mailbox (again) soon, as no less than 12,000 signatures collected by protest group Bezield Verband will come his way. These signatures, and the group as a whole, protest the cardinal’s  policy of shutting than all but 20 churches in the archdiocese and merging the existing parishes into giant monstrosities out of touch with any and all faithful. Because of this, they say, Cardinal Eijk is responsible for the alienation of thousands of faithful.

Let me first say that those faithful should take a good hard look at their own faith if it is so fickle as to be extinguished by church politics. But that’s beside the point, really, because the real problem here is that Cardinal Eijk does not have such a policy, nor does he have any desire for it.

By pretending that the cardinal is out to enforce the closure of as many churches as he can, Bezield Verband is quite simply lying. This is not policy, and the decision to close churches lies with the parish councils, not the bishop of a diocese. Of course, the latter influences the process by merging parishes and redistributing priests and pastoral workers as he deems necessary, but a church building or community ultimately costs money and people. If both these are lacking, serious questions about the future of the community, parish and even diocese must be asked. Cardinal Eijk is asking these questions and acting on the answers, and parishes must do likewise.

Will Cardinal Eijk be responding to the 12,000 signatures? Unlikely. He has already made clear that he does not consider Bezield Verband a serious conversation partner. The fact that the group is presenting untruths does not seem likely to change that.

Bezield Verband also intends to send the signatures and assorted other documents that support their position to Rome.

That said, there are plenty of questions and concerns about this entire process. And it would be good if these are acknowledged. The cardinal and the Archdicoese of Utrecht can do more in that regard, but so do the concerned faithful and the groups claiming to represent them. Everyone involved can do with more listening. And charity.