Benedict XVI has named the bishop of Tunis, Fouad Twal, 64, as coadjutor to Archbishop Michel Sabbah, the patriarch of Jersualem of the Latins. The intriguing thing about this is that Sabbah is only 72, so this could be considered a subtle nudge....
As opposed to Sabbah, known for often-controversial statements in favor of the Palestinian cause, the new coadjutor is likely to hew a more diplomatic line, precisely because he's a diplomat. Twal -- a Jordanian-born prelate ordained for the Jerusalem patriarchate whose early priesthood included a stint in Ramallah (where the Palestinian Authority is based) -- is a graduate of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy who served in Peru, Germany, Honduras and at the Secretariat of State before being made bishop of Tunis in 1992.
Between this appointment and last week's tip of Archbishop Mounged El-Hachem -- a diocesan bishop in Lebanon who's also a product of State -- as apostolic nuncio in the Arabian Peninsula, we're seeing a unification of the pastoral and diplomatic mission where called for. It's a signal development of the early days of this pontificate.
Also in the Bollettino, the Pope has revealed his own long-awaited slate of additional appointees to the Synod for the Eucharist. John Paul revealed a slate of delegates -- both elected from the episcopal conferences and his appointees -- in late March, and this was seen as one of B16's many slight tweakings in advance of the October gathering. It's being said that, with these names, the New Curia is being presented before their appointments. We'll see....
The U.S. already had four delegates: Bishop William Skylstad (USCCB president), Wilton, Rigali and Donald Wuerl. By appointment, that number's now seven: the Pope added Cardinal Szoka (head of the Vatican City Governorato, formerly of Detroit), Salim Bustros, the head of the Melkite eparchy of Newton, Mass., and Stefan Soroka, the archeparch of Philadelphia for the Ukrainians. So three of the seven are from Pennsylvania, including the two archbishops of Catholic Philadelphia....
B16 also added several cardinals to the delegates' list -- 16 to be precise. Among the noteworthy names: Meisner (Cologne), Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo, Ivan Dias of Bombay (a former diplomat rumored to be in line for a Curial job), Errazuriz (former curialist, priest of Schoenstatt, archbishop of Santiago de Chile and president of the CELAM -- the Latin American megaconference), Pell (you know him), Ouellet from Quebec (former Curialist), Medina (retired from Divine Worship), and Tauran (who some are saying still has a shot at being Secretary of State).
Among the bishops, named added to The Big Dance Card include Arthur Roche of Leeds (chairman of the reformed ICEL), the presidents of all the regional episcopal conferences -- notably Amadee Grab, the Swiss Benedictine who presides over the European Bishops Conference and related that he had received permission in March to allow lay catechists to preach homilies under limited circumstances in Switzerland -- Bishop Javier Echevarria of Opus Dei, the "Black Pope" Kolvenbach, and Julian Carron, the new head of Communione e Liberazione.
What a bunch. Should make for an interesting three weeks.