Tuesday, August 15, 2006

De Propaganda

The new "Red Pope," Cardinal Ivan Dias, arrived in Rome at the end of July to take up his duties as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

While purging the dicastery's payroll of his predecessor's loved ones (and their loved ones... and their loved ones...) is the task which awaits him, the 70 year-old prelate -- a former papal diplomat -- leaves behind a vacancy in Bombay. If the trend of this pontificate keeps up, Dias'll have a bit of a say in the choice of the next head of the 500,000-strong flock, India's largest and historically home to the country's red hat.

Shortly after his 2001 elevation to the College of Cardinals, Dias received two auxiliaries -- Agnelo Rufino Gracias and Percival Joseph Fernandez -- both of whom are spoken of as potential nominees.

However, this time it seems that the road to Bombay runs through Agra... and not because of the Taj Mahal.

Agra is currently home to Dias' first Bombay auxiliary, 61 year-old Archbishop Oswald Gracias, who was made a bishop quickly on the heels of the cardinal's 1996 appointment there. Gracias is known in Rome for his work on the Vox Clara Commission for English liturgical translations, which he serves as its Second Vice-Chairman.

Given the recent victory lap of the first piece of the project -- a feat thought impossible not all that long ago -- don't be surprised if some notable appointments down the pike happen to bear those magic Latin words on their resumes... and not just in India.

It's still early, of course, but the stars -- and the karma -- seem aligned.