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Were controversial Vatican officials eased out to new assignments?

October 18, 2012

John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter examines the recent appointments of two Vatican officials to new posts outside Rome, asking whether disagreements within the Vatican leadership might have prompted the moves.

Msgr. Charles Scicluna, the chief Vatican prosecutor in sex-abuse cases, was named auxiliary bishop in his native Malta, while Archbishop Joseph Tobin, the secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, has been appointed Archbishop of Indianapolis. Bishop-elect Scicluna won a reputation for demanding accountability from bishops; Archbishop Tobin was known for his sympathy toward American women religious who were under investigation by the Vatican.

"Especially with Tobin, it's hard not to see office politics at work," Allen remarks. But in each case, he concedes, the Vatican official was given a promotion--not relegated to a backwater. Archbishop Tobin will retain a good deal of influence on the Vatican's investigation of women religious, from his new post in the American hierarchy. Msgr. Scicluna had served beyond the normal term at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and now is positioned to become the top Catholic official in his own country. Vatican officials assured Allen that in neither case could the new appointment be considered a demotion.


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