The start of Pope Francis’ shake-up of the Curia?

A whole raft of new appointments and assignments in the Curia today. It seems as if Pope Francis is really getting to work with what he has been saying he would since his election: the reform of the Curia. New Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin is already waiting in the wings, ready to take over the office from Cardinal Bertone on 15 October. The Curia that he will be working closely with is starting to change with today’s transfers and appointments, although some prelates had their positions confirmed as well. These confirmations usually take place within the first week after a new Pope has been elected, but Pope Francis is taking his time: six months in, there are still prelates waiting to be confirmed.

I won’t hazard to guess if the appointments are wise or not, although I remain willing to give the Holy Father and the prelates in question every chance at doing their new jobs in the Curia, helping Pope Francis manage the Catholic Church and communicate, defend and confirm the faith that the Lord entrusted to her.

An overview at the changes:

Cardinal Piacenza and Archbishops Stella, Eterovic and Baldisseri
Cardinal Piacenza and Archbishops Stella, Eterovic and Baldisseri

New appointments:

  • Mauro Cardinal Piacenza, until today the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, succeeds Manuel Cardinal Monteiro de Castro as Major Penitentiary. Cardinal Monteiro de Castro is 75 and has therefore retired. Cardinal Piacenza is 69 and has been a member of the Curia since 2000. He has been Undersecretary for the Congregation for the Clergy (2000-2003) and President of the Pontifical Commissions for the Cultural Heritage of the Church and for Sacred Archaeology following his consecration as bishop (2003-2007). In 2007 he was elevated to the dignity of archbishop and appointed as Secretary for the Congregation for the Clergy (2007-2010) and became its Prefect in 2010. In that same year he was created a cardinal. As head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, Cardinal Piacenza is in charge of the Church tribunal chiefly dealing with excommunications, dispensations and indulgences.
  • Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, was until today the Vice-President of the Pontifical Council “Ecclesia Dei”. He now returns to the office where he began his Curial career as he is appointed as Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This is a new position, as the Congregation also has a Secretary and an Undersecretary. Archbishop Di Noia began in the latter function in 2002. In 2009 he became the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which came with a consecration to bishop. In 2012 Archbishop Di Noia was appointed to “Ecclesia Dei”.
  • Archbishop Beniamino Stella succeeds Cardinal Piacenza as Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy. He is a diplomat who began as Apostolic Delegate, Pro-Nuncio and Nuncio to various countries (Chad, the Central African Republic and Congo (1987-1992), Cuba (1992-1999) and Colombia (1999-2007). He was President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy which trains priests for diplomatic service, from 2007 to today.
  • Archbishop-elect Jorge Carlos Patrón Wong, was until today the Bishop of Paplanta in Mexico. He has no Curial experience yet. From 2009 to 2012 he was Coadjutor Bishop of Paplanta, and last year he became the ordinary. He will be the Secretary for the Seminaries in the Congregation for the Clergy. This is a fairly new position, as the Congregation only received responsibility for the formation of priests in January of this year.
  • Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, for more than nine years the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, the advisory body for the Pope which meets every couple of years for an intense series of discussions on specific topics. Before the task, Archbishop Eterovic served as the Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine, and he will now return to such a diplomatic posting, except this time in Germany. He succeeds Archbishop Jean-Claude Périsset, who is some six months shy of his 75th birthday and will therefore retire.
  • Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, will retain one is his two offices, that of Secretary of the College of Cardinals. His other office, of Secretary of the Congregation of Bishops will be exchanged for that vacated by Archbishop Eterovic: Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops. Archbishop Baldisseri’s appointment may safely be considered in  light of Pope Francis’ intent to move the Synod of Bishops to an instrument of an increased and more effective collegiality among the world’s bishops. Archbishop Baldisseri is also a diplomat, having served as Apostolic Nuncio to Haïti (1992-1995), Paraguay (1995-1999), India and Nepal (1999-2002) and Brazil (2002-2012).
  • Archbishop-elect Giampiero Gloder is an official of the Secretariat of State who will succeed Archbishop Stella as President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.

Confirmed:

Archbishop Müller and Cardinal Filoni
Archbishop Müller and Cardinal Filoni
  • Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
  • Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer as Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
  • Fernando Cardinal Filoni as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
  • Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai as Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples
  • Archbishop Protase Rugambwa as Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
  • Archbishop Celso Morga Iruzubieta as secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy.

 

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Clergy Congregation to the priests: “Be holy!”

In a letter published on the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of the Clergy, taking place on the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 15 June this year, the Congregation for the Clergy writes a letter (translation)to the world’s priests. The letter, signed by the Congregation’s prefect, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza (pictured), and secretary Archbishop Celso Morga Iruzubieta, focusses on St. Paul’s appeal to all Christians: “This is the will of God: your holiness!” (1 Thess. 4:3).

The authors firmly relate the letter to the upcoming Year of Faith and the anniversaries of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and also the upcoming General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will focus on the new evangelisation. These latter three events must be the focus of priests everywhere in the framework of the Year of Faith.

The final paragraph outlines why priests especially need to be holy:

“Today’s world, with its ever more painful and preoccupying lacerations, needs God – The Trinity, and the Church has the task to proclaim Him. In order to fulfil this task, the Church must remain indissolubly embraced with Christ and never part from Him; it needs Saints who dwell “in the heart of Jesus” and are happy witnesses of God’s Trinitarian Love. And in order to serve the Church and the World, Priests need to be Saints!”

New jobs for new cardinals

In the run-up to the previous consistory, we’ve heard often that one of the duties of cardinals is to aid the pope in all manner of Church-related affairs. Exactly how that takes shape became clear yesterday, as the new cardinals have been appointed to seats on various congregations, tribunals, councils and committees. Here follows a list of the dicasteries and the new cardinals that were assigned to them.

  • Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Cardinals Alencherry, Filoni and Coccopalmerio
  • Congregation for the Oriental Churches: Cardinals Alencherry, Dolan, Muresan, Filoni and O’Brien
  • Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments: Cardinal Vegliò
  • Congregation for the Causes of the Saints: Cardinals Monteiro de Castro and Abril y Castelló
  • Congregation for Bishops: Cardinals Monteiro de Castro, Abril y Castelló, Bertello and Versaldi
  • Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples: Cardinals Tong Hon, Abril y Castelló, Bertello and Calcagno
  • Congregation for the Clergy: Cardinals Eijk and Braz de Aviz
  • Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life: Cardinals Duka and Versaldi
  • Congregation for Education: Cardinals Collins, Eijk, Betori, Woelki, Filoni, Braz de Aviz and O’Brien
  • Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura: Cardinals Coccopalmerio and Versaldi
  • Pontifical Council for the Laity: Cardinal Vegliò
  • Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity: Cardinals Woelki and Coccopalmerio
  • Pontifical Council for the Family: Cardinal Vegliò
  • Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace: Cardinals Duka and Bertello
  • Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”: Cardinal O’Brien
  • Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People: Cardinal Monteiro de Castro
  • Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers: Cardinal Calcagno
  • Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue: Cardinal Tong Hon
  • Pontifical Council for Culture: Cardinal Betori
  • Pontifical Council for Social Communications: Cardinals Collins and Dolan
  • Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation: Cardinal Dolan
  • Pontifical Committee for the International Eucharistic Congresses: Cardinal Braz de Aviz
Both new to the Congregation for Education: Cardinals Thomas Collins and Wim Eijk

All the Church’s cardinals under the age of 80 (and some over 80) have one or more functions within the dicasteries of the Roman Curia. This is in addition to their regular duties as diocesan bishops or curial prelates. In practice it means that they’ll have to be in Rome a bit more often than before.

Our own Cardinal Eijk has been appointed to the Congregations for Clergy (responsible for all secular priests and deacons) and Education (seminaries and Catholic schools). He will than be in Rome for up to four times a year, as these dicasteries meet. Cardinal Eijk will not be needed in Rome for the day-to-day affairs of the Congregations and, even then, he will of course be able to do a significant amount of work from Utrecht.

These appointments form one of two steps that fully integrate new cardinals into the curia. The other step is the official taking possession of their title churches. This can take some time, sometimes up to a year after the consistory in which a cardinal was created.  Of the latest batch, only Cardinals Filoni and Grech have done so. Cardinals Becker, Monteiro de Castro and Tong Hon will take possession of their churches today, and Cardinal Coccopalmerio will follow on Thursday. The dates for the other cardinals are not yet known.

Photo credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Cardinal watch: Cardinal Sánchez passes away

Eight days before his 92nd birthday, Philippine cardinal José Tomás Sánchez passed away early this morning in Manila. He was among the oldest members of the College of Cardinals, with only six cardinals older.

Cardinal Sánchez was born in 1920 in the Philippines and became a priest for the Diocese of Sorsogon in 1946. In 1968 he was appointed as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Caceres and only three years later, in 1971, as Coadjutor Bishop of Lucena. He succeeded to that see in 1976. In 1982, Bishop Sánchez became Archbishop Sánchez of Nueva Segovia, from which position he resigned in March of 1986, five months after he was called to Rome to become secretary of the Vatican mission office, the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

Archbishop Sánchez was created a cardinal by Blessed Pope John Paul II in the consistory of 28 June 1991, and almost immediately afterwards became the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. He resigned from the latter in 1993 and from the former in 1996.

He held the title church of San Pio V a Villa Carpegna, first as cardinal-deacon and later as cardinal-priest. Cardinal Sánchez never participated in a conclave, being already over 80 when Pope Benedict XVI was elected.

The College of Cardinals now numbers 212, with 124 electors.

A long expected appointment

Bishop elect Jan Hendriks in the courtyard of the Tiltenberg seminary

Earlier today, several news channels broke the news that Msgr. Dr. Johannes Willibrordus Maria (Jan for short) Hendriks has been appointed as the new auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam. Katholiek Nieuwsblad and Rorate both published the appointment about 90 minutes before the usual embargo was lifted at noon. Katholiek Nieuwsblad evidently realised their error and retracted the news item, before republishing it at the proper time.

The appointment comes as virtually no surprise. The name of Hendriks widely circulated when Rotterdam became vacant earlier this year, and some also mentioned him for Breda, which remains vacant still. Msgr. Hendriks is a priest of the Diocese of Rotterdam, although he has been working in the neighbouring Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam for years, most recently as rector of the Tiltenberg seminary, canon of the cathedral chapter, and canon lawyer for the legal court of Haarlem-Amsterdam. Since 2004, he has also been a consultor for the Congregation for the Clergy.

The bishop elect is a productive author, having written books and articles about such topics as canon law, the Blessed Virgin, celibacy, Vatican II and education, and various others.

The new auxiliary bishop succeeds Bishop Jan van Burgsteden, whose retirement was approved at the same time at Msgr. Hendriks’ appointment. The amiable and much-loved Van Burgsteden has been auxiliary bishop since 2000, and turned 75 in December. Despite his age, he travelled down to Madrid for August’s World Youth Days and would probably be able to function a while longer as auxiliary.

As auxiliary bishop, Msgr. Hendriks will hold the titular see of Arsacal, located in modern Algeria. The date of his consecration is announced as 10 December, but whether or not it can take place in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Bavo, which is undergoing extensive restorations, remains to be seen.

As motto, the bishop elect chose a quote from the Gospel of John: “Quodcumque dixerit vobis, facite” (“Do whatever He tells you”).

And lastly for now, fittingly for an active Facebook user, Msgr. Hendriks releases his first statement via that medium: “Today it’s been announced that I have been appointed as auxiliary bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam, with Arsacal as titular see. Heartfelt thanks to all who pray for me and wished me well.”

The bishop, clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam have received a kindhearted and intelligent auxiliary bishop and vicar general who will undoubtedly prove to be an able shepherd for the Church.

Photo credit: RKK

On the occasion of 60 years of priesthood, a spiritual bouquet for the pope

Cardinal Piacenza, with the Holy Father in the background

I haven’t read much about yet, but on the website of the Archdiocese of Utrecht I read that Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, has written a letter to all the world’s ordinaries of dioceses and other ecclesiastical jurisdictions. In it, the cardinal asks them to provide for 60 hours of Eucharistic Adoration in their diocese, for the occasion for the 60th anniversary of the ordination to the priesthood of Pope Benedict XVI, “to demonstrate to him our gratitude, our affection, and our communion with him, both in his service to God and to the Church and above all in that “Truth which shines upon the world” to which he continually calls us through his teaching”.

The anniversary is on 29 June, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Do read the letter via the link above. There’s little need for me to repeat it here, after all.

The archdiocese has had a prayer composed for this reason, a prayer that is in the first place intended for use during Adoration, but may also be used at the end of Mass, other liturgical celebrations or in personal prayer. The original Dutch text is available here. Below is my translation.

Lord Jesus Christ,
who art our Bread of Life,
our sustenance for time and eternity,
like the Apostles after Your Resurrection we adore You,
You who are truly present among us,
especially through the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.

We thank You for protecting and guiding Your Church through the ages.
In His care for the Church Your Spirit has appointed our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI
to be the successor of Peter, the first among the Apostles.
With the pope we thank You this month for the sixtieth anniversary of his priestly ordination.
We pray that his dedication to You and Your Church may bear rich fruits,
fruits of faith, hope and love which last.
Keep on supporting him with Your wisdom, power and love;
that he may show us the way to You in faith and joy.

We pray for Your entire Church;
That all the baptised live from Your Gospel,
and are a blessing for all on Earth;
We pray for all the priests,
That they, as your special friends, be dedicated shepherds of Your people,
honest and servient
and that they may thus bring many to You.
We pray for vocations to the priesthood;
that many understand Your voice and serve You and Your Church
as holy and joyful priests, to the joy and sanctification of many.
Grant us the priests we need.

Lord Jesus Christ,
with Pope Benedict we pray you
on the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church,
of Saint Joseph, protector of the Church,
and of Saints Peter and Paul, blood witnesses and foundations of the Church:
remain with us, Your entire Church and every one of us personally,
You, our Shepherd, our Protector, our High Priest, who lives in eternity.

Amen.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito

Bishops counter crazy claims

In all honesty, I am very pleasantly surprised – and a bit relieved – that the bishops’ conference was able to release a common statement about today’s statements in the Volkskrant. Their track record in quick responses to developing news stories has not always been the best, although I do think it is improving. Let’s see what they have to say:

The Dutch Bishops’ Conference wish it to be known that the article of 18 April in the Volkskrant contain a number of manifest errors. For example, contrary to what the Volkskrant writes, Archbishop Eijk has never submitted a request to the Vatican Congregation for Bishops to have Bishop de Korte of Groningen-Leeuwarden removed from office.

In addition, the article claims that “the relations in the Church province have worsened because Msgr. Eijk employed investigators to search the computers of clergymen for information that is displeasing to the archbishop.” This too is not the case. There has been no contact with whatever investigations company, let alone that “Msgr. Eijk himself recently sent investigators to his bishops to check their computers,” as the Volkskrant writes.

Finally, there is no case of a looming “great delay of major projects within the dioceses”: the dioceses are autonomous in realising projects, although cooperation is certainly sought and found in some areas. Neither is anything known of “putting initiatives on the back burner to turn the bad financial tide in the dioceses.”

The two sources named in the Volkskrant article, the ladies Stienstra and Schreur, have indicated that the appeal to the Congregation for the Clergy has not been sent yet. It still remains to be seen to what conclusion, if any, this sordid affair will lead.