Who will be the next head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith?
August 26, 2011
Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), has passed retirement age, and has evidently indicated that he does not wish to extend his appointment. Who will replace him? Andrea Tornielli of La Stampa, the most consistently accurate of Vatican journalists, reflects on the possibilities. With so many Italian prelates already occupying top posts in the Roman Curia, it seems unlikely that Pope Benedict will choose yet another Italian, Tornielli argues.
Other possibilities, Tornielli says, include Bishop Gerhardt Ludwig Muller of Regensburg, Germany (the Pope’s home diocese) and Bishop Roland Minnerath of Dijon, France. Although it is unusual for the second-ranking official in a Vatican discastery to be promoted to the top spot, it is possible that the secretary of the CDF, the Jesuit Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, could be named. Another possibility would be a diagonal move: the promotion of Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, the American Dominican now serving as secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship.
Interestingly, Tornielli does not mention Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna: a theologian who studies under Cardinal Ratzinger and the principal editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, who in the past has frequently been named as a likely prefect for the CDF. Pope Benedict has a long record of appointing prelates with whom he is personally familiar to top Vatican posts; Cardinal Schönborn would certainly fit that description.
Another possibility that Tornielli does not mention: Pope Benedict could prevail on Cardinal Levada to stay in his current office, despite his desire to step down. There is a strong precedent for that possibility. On at least two occasions, Blessed John Paul II declined to accept the resignation of the man he wanted to continue at CDF: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
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