Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Papal Posse: White Hats, Black Hats, Red Hats

Will the Reformers get
beyond the guards? 
So Pope Francis has appointed a commission of eight Cardinals to spearhead the reform of the Roman Curia.  There is no doubt that such a reform is needed—indeed we can only hope that the reform will be as thorough and go as deep as it must to restore morale in the Catholic world.  So who is this reform team?  In this post we will look at four of them and hopefully, in the next post, the remaining four
Giuseppe Bertello is the seventy year old President of the Governatorate of the State of Vatican City.  As such he is a member of the Roman Curia though unlike most curial officials his principle duties are not spiritual or theological but involve the civil administration of Vatican City.  Cardinal Bertello spent years in the Vatican diplomatic corps serving as Papal Nuncio in several African countries as well as to the United Nations in Geneva, to Mexico, Italy, and San Marino.  While his primary duties are in civil administration, he also sits on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the (very powerful) Congregation of Bishops, and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.  He also holds the doctorate in Canon Law.  Along with Cardinal Pell, he is probably on the side of this commission more sympathetic to the curial party.   
Cardinal George Pell, 71, is the Archbishop of Sydney Australia.  Pell, a native of Ballarat, Victoria, did his theological studies at the Urbaniana in Rome and was ordained priest in 1966 in Rome.  He went on to earn a D.Phil. in history at Oxford.  He also holds a Masters in Education.  He was named an auxiliary bishop of Melbourne in 1987, Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 and translated to Sydney in 2001.  He was named a Cardinal by John Paul II in 2003.  Pell tends towards more liberal views politically, supporting Australian republicanism but theologically conservative views, especially in regards to liturgical celebration.  He is very much, in Church matters, an “institution man.”  He is not particularly well liked by the clergy or faithful of his diocese for his high-handed ways, but he is not pastorally insensitive and tends to see Church reform—at the pastoral level—as evolutionary through educational processes and not to be imposed arbitrarily.  Pell was President of the Vox Clara commission which advised the Congregation for Divine Worship on the new English Translation of the Roman Missal.  In this role he greatly frustrated the members of the re-constituted ICEL (International Committee for English in the Liturgy)—as conservative as they were, he was even more so and much of the clumsy syntax of the new missal is due to his turgid style. His pompous pedantry should not be confused for the stupidity that marks other prelates of that ilk.  He is no dummy just a bourgeois trying to pass as a grandee.  Pell has served on a number of Vatican Congregations, Commissions, and Councils including that of Justice and Peace, of the Family, and Doctrine of the Faith.  He currently serves on the Congregation for Bishops.  Pell was highly critical of Pope Benedict for resigning fearing that such action to set a precedent that future popes will feel bound to.  In 2002 Pell was accused of sexual abuse dating back to an incident when he was a seminarian in 1960.  Pell cooperated with investigators and the charges were eventually deemed not credible by the investigative board. 
Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa is the 79 year old Archbishop Emeritus of Santiago Chile.  He is a member of the Schoenstatt Movement, a secular institute of priests and laity and served as their coordinator in Chile from 1965-1971.  He went on to serve on the General Council from 1971 to 1974 when he was elected superior general.  He remained in this post until he was named an Archbishop and brought to Rome to be secretary of the Congregation of Institutes of the Consecrated Life and Societies of the Apostolic Life (generally known by the previous title Congregation of Religious).   In 1996 he was named bishop of Valparaiso and two years later translated to Santiago.  He was made a Cardinal in 2001.  He holds a doctorate in theology from the University of Fribourg.  He serves on the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of the Consecrated Life, the Pontifical Council on the Family, and the Council on the Church in Latin America.   He has an alarmingly poor record in dealing with the issue of clerical sex abuse indicating that he does not understand the gravity of the problem.  Overall, however, he is seen as a person sensitive to the needs of the poor and would take a more personalist approach to issues than an institutional one. 
Cardinal Oswald Gracias is the 68 year old Archbishop of Mumbai.  Cardinal Gracias comes from the background of the Catholic community of Goa established by the missionary work of Saint Francis Xavier in the sixteenth century.  he was educated in India not in Rome, however after ordination studied at the Urbianum where he received the doctorate in Canon Law.  He taught in seminaries in Mumbai, Poona, and Bangalore and was president of the Canon Law Society in India.  In 1997 he was named auxiliary bishop of Bombay, in 2000 Archbishop of Agra, and 2006 Archbishop of Bombay.  Benedict XVI named him a Cardinal in 2007.  He is a member of the Pontifical Council for Legislative texts and of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.  He is also a member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the Congregation for Catholic Education. Much like Pope Francis, he is more relaxed in his style than many of his peers. 
We will have to look at the remaining four prelates to get an estimation of the reform board but it can be said that these four all seem to be men of personal integrity.  Pell in particular would be more to the right, but none are American style liberals.  On the other hand, none seem to be particularly beholden to the curial party though Pell and Bertello in particular would probably be less inclined to drastic restructuring.  But in the end, who knows?  Time will tell. 

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