zaterdag 25 februari 2012

Is it time for a Jacobin pope?

As a thought exercise, ask yourself what period of time the following paragraph about the Vatican seems to reflect.

"For those who've seen the place in better days, the Vatican looks deeply troubled. In the absence of strong leadership, internal tensions seem to be bursting into view. Even at the height of his powers, the pope took scant interest in governance. As he ages and becomes more limited, a sense of drift is mounting - a conviction that hard choices must await a new day, and probably a new pontiff."

Although it seems perfectly apt in February 2012, in fact, that paragraph was written in late 2004. That's the irony: Many cardinals who elected Benedict XVI thought they were buying an end to the crisis of governance in the twilight of John Paul's reign, only to find they'd simply traded it in for a newer model.

In the abstract, Joseph Ratzinger seemed the man to put things right. As the saying went, Ratzinger was in the curia but not of it -- he knew where the bodies were buried, but he was never the stereotypical Vatican potentate, forever building empires and hatching schemes. Plus, he's hardly the extrovert John Paul was, so it seemed reasonable he might invest more energy in internal business.

Facing what is, alas, merely the latest implosion in the last six years, the mushrooming "Vatileaks" scandal, one has to ask: What went wrong? (The latest chapter of that saga came Wednesday when Italian TV aired an anonymous interview with an alleged mole who claimed to be one of at least 20 insiders leaking documents.)

It's become commonplace to say that Benedict XVI sees himself as a teaching pope, not a governor, and that's obviously true. Still, Benedict actually has engineered a sort of limited reform inside the Vatican, and for those with eyes to see, it marks a real break with the past. Not so long ago, it was taken for granted that the following was just what Vatican heavyweights do, to some extent reflecting traditional Italian assumptions about men of state:

- Using positions of power to reward allies and block enemies, thereby building a network of patronage and influence.
- Moving money around without much of a paper trail, steering contracts and resources to one's friends and supporters.
- Turning a blind eye to the personal failings of people perceived as loyal to the church, the pope or influential figures in the hierarchy.
- Clandestine involvement in worldly politics and finance, justified as a way of advancing the interests of the church.

Slowly, Benedict XVI has tried to move people who embody a more transparent and less nakedly ambitious way of doing business into key positions. The question is, Has this gradual reform hit a brick wall? If it's dying the death of a thousand cuts, as some believe, what's the next step - to go back, or to move forward to a more aggressive phase?

To invoke an analogy from revolutionary France, is it time for the Jacobins to wrest control from the moderates?

Benedict's limited reform is based on setting a moral tone and the idea that "personnel is policy," rather than any violent purge or direct overhaul of systems and structures. It began with the ultra-powerful Secretariat of State, where the stereotype of the "prelate as Renaissance prince" tends still to have the most legs.

It's well known that Benedict's pick to run the place, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, is an outsider known more for his personal devotion to the pope than as an independent powerbroker. The new "substitute," or chief of staff, Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, also never worked in the Secretariat, making him likewise a stranger to its palace intrigue. Becciu is cut from a different cloth in another sense, too. He's from the island of Sardinia, where people tend to think of themselves as quite different from mainland Italians --– quieter, more reflective, less given to schemes and theater. Supposedly, when Benedict XVI visited Sardinia in 2008, he quipped that "Sardinians aren't really Italians," which may be revealing in terms of what he thought he was doing by giving Becciu the job.

Consider, too, the three longtime friends Benedict chose to lead what he regards as the most important other Vatican offices: American Cardinal William Levada, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Congregation for Bishops; and Spanish Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Congregation for Divine Worship.

Levada and Ouellet had some previous Vatican experience, but none represents the old guard. Nobody really suspects them of financial shenanigans or building their own ecclesiastical empires, and they spend precious little time in the limelight. Levada, for instance, has been on the job since 2005, and Cañizares since 2008, yet even some full-time Vatican writers would struggle to pick either man out of a lineup because they've maintained such a low profile.

If the lone benchmarks of reform were a reputation for personal decency and not jockeying to be the next pope, you could probably declare the job finished and go home. Unfortunately, that recipe leaves two vital questions unanswered:

What about guys inside the system who aren't on the same page and who may take Benedict's detachment as carte blanche to pursue their own agenda? Prayer and purification are great, but at some point, doesn't somebody also have to make the trains run on time? It's hard to avoid the conclusion that Benedict's attempt at reform has paid a steep price for not confronting those two points head-on.

Facing that reality, three broad reactions seem possible. Each leads to a different conclusion about who might be the right choice when the time comes to elect a successor to Benedict XVI.

1. One could decide the reform was a nonstarter from the outset. In the words of Michelangelo, there's only one statue in this stone -- the Vatican is always going to have its careerists and its schemers, it's always going to have a subtext of petty turf wars and personal squabbles, so the trick is to put someone in charge who knows that world and is capable of keeping it under control. In other words, don't waste energy trying to change the place; settle for making it work.

If that's the logic, then a strong candidate for the next pope might be Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, currently prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches. A veteran of the curia, Sandri served as substitute under John Paul II, where he had a reputation as a strong administrator. As a bonus, he's an Argentine, so he could be presented to the world as a Latin American pope.

2. In the spirit of thinking in centuries, one could argue that Benedict's reform simply hasn't had time to work itself out, and the key is staying the course. That seemed to be the spirit of a Feb. 13 statement from Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, on the Vatileaks mess. When somebody starts launching attacks, Lombardi said, it's usually a sign that "something important is in play." The suggestion appeared to be that products of the older Vatican culture know the earth is shifting beneath their feet, and the leaks represent their way of lashing out.

Ouellet would be a compelling choice for that school of thought. He's very much like Benedict -- quiet, spiritual, given to the life of the mind. He's someone who would likely emphasize teaching and moral leadership over institutional dynamics.

3. One might conclude that Benedict's reform has its heart in the right place, but needs to be backed up by a stronger hand on the rudder. You need someone at the top who can not only set a tone, but who has the mettle to make it stick. That seems a prescription for a pope with strong credentials as a man of faith, but also experience at wrapping his hands around complex bureaucracies, with sufficient energy and fearlessness to take on the Vatican's entrenched culture.

Figure out which guy among the current crop of cardinals best fits that profile, and you'll have the "Jacobin" candidate.

(Source: John L. Allen, Jr., - NCR, All Things Catholic)

dinsdag 21 februari 2012

Europe still dominates College of Cardinals

With the addition of 22 new members at the consistory of February 18, the College of Cardinals now includes 213 members, of whom 125 are eligible to vote in a papal conclave.

Pope Benedict has now appointed 84 cardinals, including 63 who are under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote in a papal election. Thus a bare majority of the cardinal-electors have been named by the current Pontiff.

All but 4 of the cardinals alive today were named by either Pope Benedict or his predecessor, Bl. John Paul II. Cardinals Eugenio de Araujo Sales, Luis Aponte Martinez, Paolo Arns, and William Baum were appointed by Pope Paul VI. All four of those prelates are now well above the age of 80.

The geographical distribution of the College of Cardinals remains heavily tilted toward Europe. There are 119 European cardinals, of whom 67 are electors. Thus the European cardinals account for a majority of the College, and would make up a majority in a conclave.

There are 29 cardinals from Latin America, 19 from North America (including Mexico), 20 from Asia, 17 from Africa, and 4 from Oceania. Among the cardinal-electors, 22 are from South America, 15 from North America, 11 from Africa, and 10 from Asia and Oceania.


zaterdag 18 februari 2012

Pope Adds 22 Cardinals To Club To Elect Successor

Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday 18 februari brought 22 new Catholic churchmen into the elite club of cardinals who will elect his successor, in a greatly simplified ceremony that took account of evidence the 84-year-old pontiff is slowing down.

Benedict presided over a ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica to formally create the 22 cardinals, who include the archbishops of New York, Prague, Hong Kong and Toronto as well as the heads of several Vatican offices.

Preparations for the ceremony have been clouded by embarrassing leaks of internal documents alleging financial mismanagement in Vatican affairs, and reports in the Italian media of political jockeying among church officials who, sensing an increasingly weak pontiff, are already preparing for a conclave.

None of that was on display Saturday, however, amid the pomp of the consistory that brought to 125 the number of cardinals under age 80 who are thus eligible to vote in a papal election.

That said, each of the new cardinals did make a solemn pledge to keep church secrets upon accepting their new title, ring and three-pointed red hat, or biretta, from the pope.

Reciting the cardinals' traditional oath of loyalty, each one pledged to remain faithful to the church and to "not to make known to anyone matters entrusted to me in confidence, the disclosure of which could bring damage or dishonor to Holy Church."

Benedict was wheeled into St. Peter's Basilica aboard the moving platform he has been using for several months to spare him the long walk down the center aisle. Benedict, who turns 85 in April, spoke in a strong voice as he told the cardinals they will be called upon to advise him on the problems facing the church.

In remarks at the start of the service, Benedict recalled that the red color of the three-pointed hat, or biretta, and the scarlet cassock that cardinals wear symbolizes the blood that cardinals must be willing to shed to remain faithful to the church. "The new cardinals are entrusted with the service of love: love for God, love for his church, an absolute and unconditional love for his brothers and sisters even unto shedding their blood, if necessary," Benedict said.

Benedict has been slowing down recently. His upcoming trip to Mexico and Cuba, for example, is very light on public appearances, with no political speeches or meetings with civil society planned as has been the norm to date. Even Saturday's consistory was greatly trimmed back to a slimmer version of the service used in 1969: only one of the cardinals actually read his oath of loyalty aloud, while the others read it silently to themselves simultaneously. A reading was cut out, as was a responsorial psalm.

At the end of his remarks, Benedict said: "And pray for me, that I may continually offer to the people of God the witness of sound doctrine and guide the holy church with a firm and humble hand."

Of the 22 new cardinals, seven are Italian, adding to the eight voting-age Italian cardinals named at the last consistory in November 2010. As of Saturday, Italy will have 30 cardinals out of the 125 under age 80.

That boosts Italy's chances of taking back the papacy for one of its own following decades under a Polish and a German pope, or at least playing the kingmaker role if an Italian papabile, or papal candidate, doesn't emerge.

Only the United States comes close, with 12 cardinals under 80, including New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Cardinal-designate Edwin O'Brien, the former archbishop of Baltimore who is now grand master of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher, which raises money for the church in the Holy Land.

The consistory class of 2012 is heavily European, reinforcing Europe's dominance of the College of Cardinals, even though two-thirds of the world's Catholics are in the southern hemisphere. All but three of the new under-80 cardinals come from the West, along with a Brazilian, an Indian and a Chinese.

(Sources: NPR/AP)

Pope appoints 22 new cardinals

Pope Benedict appointed 22 new cardinals at the Vatican on Saturday, with his choices for the lofty role likely to influence who will be appointed as the next pontiff. The Vatican named the new cardinals last month, but they were officially inducted by the pontiff in a special ceremony at St. Peter's Basilica. Among those to be elevated to the College of Cardinals are New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, cementing his standing as the top Catholic in the United States, and Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien of Baltimore.

Others include Archbishop Thomas Collins, from Toronto, as well as the Bishop of Hong Kong, John Tong Hon, and Major Archbishop George Alencherry from India. Senior clerics from Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Romania and Brazil are also represented, as well as several from Italy.

The College of Cardinals was established in 1150. Its main role is to advise the current Pope and pick his successor. "This is the most exclusive club in the Catholic Church," said John Allen, CNN's Vatican analyst. "In many cases, you also become, at least informally, a candidate to be the next pope, because the next pope will almost certainly come from the roughly 120 cardinals under the age of 80."

Once a cardinal reaches 80, he is no longer able to participate in the election of the pope or enter the secret conclave where cardinals gather when the time comes to select the next pope, typically upon the prior pope's death.

The new cardinals each professed their faith and swore an oath of obedience to Pope Benedict and his successors during Saturday's ceremony, called the Consistory, at the Vatican. They then walked one by one to the pontiff and knelt in front of him to receive the traditional red hat, or "biretta" and gold ring, and a document with the name of the cardinal's titular church in Rome.

In his address, Benedict said that in joining the College of Cardinals, the clerics would "be united with new and stronger bonds not only to the Roman Pontiff but also to the entire community of the faithful spread throughout the world." Emphasizing the importance of service over self-interest, the pontiff said the red of the cardinals' hats was symbolic of the ultimate sacrifice they would make if required.

"The new cardinals are entrusted with the service of love: love for God, love for his Church, an absolute and unconditional love for his brothers and sisters, even unto shedding their blood, if necessary, as expressed in the words of placing the biretta and as indicated by the color of their robes," he said.


vrijdag 3 februari 2012

Creating cardinals: Ceremony features something old, new, borrowed, red

Something old, something new, something borrowed and something red will be part of the mix Feb. 18 when Pope Benedict XVI creates new cardinals. The general format of the consistory has been maintained, but the ceremony has been modified and will include the use of prayers borrowed from ancient Roman liturgies. Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan will even address the College of Cardinals on the subject of new evangelization.

And, of course, red will be the color of the day as the new cardinals are reminded that they are called to give their lives to God and the church, even to the point of shedding their blood.

Tradition and innovation, solemnity and festivity, high honor and a call to sacrifice are key parts of the creation of new cardinals.

The hushed moment when a churchman kneels before the pope and receives his red hat as a cardinal contrasts sharply with the mood in the Apostolic Palace that same evening when the public -- literally anyone who wants to come -- is invited in to congratulate the new cardinals.

Pope Benedict will create 21 new cardinals in the morning during an "ordinary public consistory" in St. Peter's Basilica. For reasons of health, the 22nd cardinal-designate, German Jesuit Father Karl Josef Becker, 83, will not attend the ceremony and will be made a cardinal "privately at some other time," said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.

The evening of the consistory, the Bronze Doors will open and the public will be allowed to swarm up the Scala Regia -- the royal stairway -- and into the Apostolic Palace to meet and greet the new cardinals.

A consistory is a gathering of cardinals with the pope. According to canon law, an ordinary consistory is called for consultation or for the celebration "of especially solemn acts," such as the creation of new cardinals or a vote approving the canonization of candidates for sainthood.

And, in fact, the consistory Feb. 18 will include both. Immediately after the new cardinals are created, all the "princes of the church" are scheduled to vote on several new saints -- including Blessed Marianne Cope of Molokai and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha -- Msgr. Guido Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies, told Catholic News Service Feb. 1.

Normally, the public consistory for new saints is attended by cardinals living in Rome, but the creation of new cardinals is an opportunity for all of them to exercise their role as advisers to the pope.

This will be the fourth time Pope Benedict has created new cardinals and will bring his total to 84 cardinals, of whom 79 are still alive; 63 of his appointees in the College of Cardinals will be under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.

Like the consistories he held in 2007 and in 2010, the February ceremony will be preceded by a daylong meeting of the pope with the College of Cardinals and the cardinals-designate. The Vatican said the theme will be "Proclaiming the Gospel today, between 'missio ad gentes' and new evangelization" with Cardinal-designate Dolan of New York opening the meeting.

The three-cornered, red biretta the pope will place on the new cardinals' heads is traditional, but the ceremony for the 2012 consistory has been changed.

In early January, the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, reported, "The rite used up to now has been revised and simplified with the approval of the Holy Father," in part to avoid any impression that becoming a cardinal is a sacrament like ordination.

But two ordinations will precede the consistory. Three of the new cardinals named by Pope Benedict are priests, not bishops.

Church law says new cardinals must have been ordained at least to the priesthood and should be ordained bishops before entering the College of Cardinals. However, in recent decades, many of the elderly priests named to the college as a sign of esteem and gratitude for their service to the church have requested, and received, an exemption from episcopal ordination.

Maltese Augustinian Father Prosper Grech, an 86-year-old biblical theologian and one of the co-founders of Rome's Augustinian Patristical Institute, was scheduled to be ordained a bishop Feb. 8 in Malta. Belgian Father Julien Ries, 91, an expert on the history of religions, told CNS he would be ordained a bishop Feb. 11 in Belgium. On the other hand, in keeping with the Jesuit promise not to strive for any dignity in the church, Father Becker, a retired professor at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University, said he would become a cardinal without becoming a bishop.

Another small change made to the consistory this year involves timing. The prelates will receive their cardinals' rings from Pope Benedict during the consistory, rather than at the Mass they will concelebrate with the pope Feb. 19. And, as customary, during the consistory they also will receive their assignments of a "titular church" in Rome, making them formally members of the Rome diocesan clergy, which is what the church's first cardinals were.

Once the new cardinals are created, the College of Cardinals will have a record-high number of members. The total number of princes of the church will reach 213, surpassing the total of 203 reached with the consistory in 2010. As recently as 2001, the total number of cardinals dipped to 139 just before Pope John Paul II named a record 44 cardinals at once.

(Source: Catholic News Service)

Le Collège des cardinaux compte 191 cardinaux dont 107 électeurs

À l’approche du quatrième Consistoire convoqué par Benoît XVI le 18 février prochain pour la création de 22 nouveaux cardinaux, le collège des cardinaux a subi une modification le mercredi 1er février après le décès du cardinal Anthony Joseph Bevilacqua, archevêque émérite de Philadelphie aux États-Unis. À ce jour, le Collège des cardinaux compte donc 191 cardinaux, dont 107 électeurs et 84 non électeurs.

Lors du prochain consistoire, 22 nouveaux cardinaux seront créés dont 18 électeurs. Quatre prélats ne sont pas appelés à voter, en cas de conclave, ayant plus de 80 ans.
« Comme chacun le sait, a expliqué le Pape en annonçant le 6 janvier dernier la tenue du consistoire, les cardinaux ont le devoir d’aider le successeur de Pierre dans l’accomplissement de son ministère, de confirmer les frères dans la foi et d’être principe et fondement de l’unité et de la communion de l’Église ».
Lors des consistoires de mars 2006, novembre 2007 et novembre 2010, Benoît XVI avait déjà créé 62 cardinaux, dont 50 avaient alors moins de 80 ans, donc électeurs.
(Source: Radio Vatican)