Monday, July 10, 2006

From the Secretaries' Desk....

This morning, the Pope named Conventual Franciscan Fr Gianfranco Gardin as Secretary of the Congregation for Religious Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Archbishop-elect Gardin succeeds Archbishop Piergiorgio Silvano Nesti, a Passionist, whose resignation was accepted for reasons of age.

The new secretary, who will serve alongside Slovenian Cardinal Franc Rode, a Vincentian, was born at Treviso in 1944. He made his final vows as a Conventual in 1965, was ordained a priest in 1970 and taught moral theology for 15 years at his community's seminary in Padua.

From 1980 to 1998, the archbishop-elect edited the magazine he founded, Credere oggi, whose title translates as "Believing Today." He led the Conventuals as their Minister-General from 1995 to 2001, served as president of the Union of Superiors General from 2000 and since last year served as general director of the Conventual journal, St Anthony Messenger.

For those of you keeping score, Archbishop-elect Gardin is the fifth major Curial appointee of the pontificate of Benedict XVI. To date, the pontiff named Cardinal William Levada to take his place at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as his Secretary of State (to take effect on 15 September), Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith as Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and Cardinal Ivan Dias of Bombay as the incoming Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Archbishop Michael Miller, the Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, marked his 60th birthday yesterday. E buon compleanno a lui.

But could Miller wind up wearing "red Maple Leaves"? That's what a friend tells me, seemingly implying a move for the Ottawa-born archbishop to Toronto, where Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic reached the retirement age in January, 2005.

The hitch? Miller's US passport -- he became a naturalized American citizen while serving as president of the University of St Thomas in Houston, in advance of his 2004 appointment to the #2 post at Catholic Ed. Oh, and there's the little matter of the apostolic visitation of Canadian seminaries, which Miller -- renowned for his German diction -- will oversee beginning later this year.

Still, it's interesting spec. Keep an eye.

And lastly, the talk of the weekend in Valencia was on the succession to Joaquin Navarro-Valls as director of the Holy See Press Office. Navarro-Valls implied shortly after Benedict's election that his days in the press post, which he's held for 22 years, were nearing their end at his own wish.

While names of potential portavoci buzzed around since, I always told friends to not be surprised if -- in fact, to expect that -- the post would go, in a first, to a laywoman.

Well, it seems we might just have our winner....

She's well-connected. Even better-travelled. She's already served as a Vatican correspondent. She speaks five languages. Her fidelity to the church and longstanding personal loyalty to Ratzinger is beyond doubt. And, not to be outdone, she would return the Sala Stampa to Italian hands.

If it came to pass, however, it wouldn't be her name written all over the appointment, but that another, that of her "Apostle":

Gloria.... G-L-O-R-I-A.... Gloria.

And, it would be quite the event. Stay tuned.