Pope makes several key appointments to Roman Curia
September 21, 2013
The Vatican announced a series of key appointments in the Roman Curia on September 21, as Pope Francis began assembling his own Vatican leadership team.
The Pope confirmed the prefects of two Vatican congregations: Archbishop Gerhard Müller at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Cardinal Fernando Filoni at the Congregation for Evangelization. Shortly after his election the Pope had announced that the leaders of the Roman Curia should remain at their posts donec aliter provideatur--until other provisions are made. The appointments of these two prefects are no longer provisional.
The Pope transferred Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, who had been the prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, to a new role as head of the Apostolic Penitentiary. This appointment could raise some eyebrows, since the prefect of a major congregation has considerably more influence over everyday Vatican policies than the Major Penitentiary. However, Cardinal Piacenza is recovering from heart surgery, and may benefit from a less demanding post. The Apostolic Penitentiary is the Vatican tribunal with jurisdiction over matters involving the "internal forum"--the relationships involving matters of conscience between a penitent and confessor, or an individual and his spiritual director. Cardinal Piacenza replaces Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, who is retiring at the age of 75.
To replace Cardinal Piacenza, the Pope named Archbishop Benjamin Stella, who has been head of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy (the training place for Vatican diplomats), the new prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. And to fill the opening created at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy he named Bishop Giampiero Gloder, a ranking official of the Secretariat of State.
In perhaps the most interesting change, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, who has been the secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, as Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops. He replaces Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, who is being sent to Germany to be apostolic nuncio there—again, a transfer that could be perceived as a demotion. Pope Francis has spoken of his desire to give the Synod of Bishops a more prominent role; he evidently chose Archbishop Baldisseri as his personal choice to carry out that role.
The Pope confirmed the secretaries, members, and consultors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Evangelization, leaving those two offices essentially intact. He did, however, make minor changes. Bishop Protase Rugambwa, who had been an official at the Congregation for Evangelization, is now the adjunct secretary. And Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, who was vice-president of the Ecclesia Dei commission, will now be an assistant secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The latter change could be significant, although Archbishop Di Noia was already working with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Pope Benedict XVI had named the American Dominican as vice-president of the Ecclesia Dei commission last year, in an evident attempt to reinvigorate dialogue with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). By detaching him (at least formally) from the Ecclesia Dei commission, Pope Francis may be signaling that the talks with the SSPX are no longer a high priority.