Sometimes someone gets appointed to a responsible role for reasons which are not entirely clear. Yesterday that happened in the Church. Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, Promotor of Justice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and as such the Holy See’s point man in the fight against sexual abuse is appointed as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Malta.
Bishop elect Scicluna has little against him that would bar him from such an appointment. On the contrary. In recent years, he has shown himself as the strongest voice for the victims in the Vatican. It was he who ruffled Curial feathers at the first congress on sexual abuse supported by the Vatican, and he is widely seen as the force behind the stricter regulations that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith now enforces for clergy guilty of sexual abuse of minors. He also personally intervened in his native Malta on behalf of three victims, pushing their cases through court and bishops’ tribunal after a decade of silence.
Why, then, is this strong force for justice, the diminutive cleric’s driving force, as testified by many who encountered him, being moved out of the Holy See? I would think he could still do much good there.
Certainly, there could be myriad reasons for this appointment. Maybe Msgr. Scicluna himself desired a new job closer to home, so to speak. Perhaps Malta’s Archbishop Paul Cremona, who has recently been dealing with fatigue-related heath issues, requested a strong and pastoral auxiliary bishop. Msgr. Scuicluna’s predecessor, Bishop Annetto Depasquale, passed away in 2011. But on the other hand, can we really say that he hasn’t made more enemies in the Curia than was good for him? I am wary from seeing too many conspiracies anywhere, but there were some who did not appreciate Msgr. Scicluna’s drive for justice being doing at any cost.
Whatever the case may be, it is good news for Malta. The new bishop is scheduled to be consecrated on 24 November, with Archbishop Cremona, obviously, as the chief consecrator. As titular see, Bishop elect Scicluna has received San Leone, ost recenly held by another Maltese cleric, Cardinal Prosper Grech, in the few weeks between his consecrated as bishop and creation as cardinal.
In a side note, there are those who see this appointment as the appointment of the new archbishop of Malta, the successor of Msgr. Cremona, and it seems likely that Msgr. Scicluna still has an illustrious career ahead of him.