Filling a post which has been vacant since 1993, Msgr Piero Pioppo will soon be publicly named to the prelature of the Institute for the Works of Religion, better known as the Vatican Bank.
Pioppo, 45, has served from 1999 until the present as private secretary to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the retiring Secretary of State who leaves office on 15 September. The new IOR chief is the first marked member of a group which can be christened the "Widows of Sodano," who will be revealed to the world over the following weeks and months as the departing Lord of San Damaso works to place his dearest aides in high posts as a reward for their loyalty.... This would lead us to believe that Broglio's on deck, but I digress.
Italian wire reports stated that Pioppo appointment was secured at the behest of Sodano, who serves as head of the cardinalatial commission which oversees the Bank. The post of prelate of the IOR was created in 1990, following the retirement of the Bank's then-President, Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, who died last February. For the following three years, the job was filled by Msgr Donato DeBonis, described as the Chink's "right hand." DeBonis was then named a bishop and moved from the Bank.
Yesterday's appointment of Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi as director of the Holy See Press Office overshadowed Pope Benedict's latest foray into the episcopal rungs of the Curia, when he named Conventual Franciscan Fr Gianfranco Gardin as Secretary of the Congregation for Religious Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
(Clearing the record: Admittedly, Monday's post first said "Pontifical Council for Religious Life," etc. All apologies -- I was posting from a hotel bar after a daylong meeting, and the supposedly-new Dell laptop purchased in December was (yet again) giving me severe difficulty. I regret the initial error; given the computer's already-lemony state, it was frustration-induced. Same goes for the confusion over the link to Saint Anthony Messenger -- the American version is not one and the same as the Italian Messaggero di Sant'Antonio, which was edited by Gardin from 1978-88.)
Apparently, word on the ground in Rome is that Gardin was a "compromise candidate" beyond the terna presented -- a compromise in the name of continued peace with the powerful superior of the Brigittine Sisters, Mother Tekla Famiglietti. The three shortlisted names were deemed "hostile" to Tekla, a close ally of Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the Vatican lifer recently dispatched to the archdiocese of Naples.
Citing the reality that Gardin's tact and record showed himself to be a more amenable fit, the Religious prefect, Cardinal Franc Rode, CM, appealed to Benedict to go beyond the prepared terna. The Pope acceded to the request.
Oh, and for those whose ears get tickled by the polemics of a certain Curial chief, the news is making the rounds that someone's going to get eclipsed very soon -- not God, but himself.
As always, stay tuned.