Thursday, October 05, 2006

The West Wanted In, The West Is In... Rome

This week, the ad limina visits of the Canadian bishops conclude as the prelates of Western Canada make the rounds of the dicasteries and each get their 15 minutes with B16.

So far, two things have struck the Great White Northerners, who've been visiting by region since the spring.

First is a different attitude from the curia people; while most of the dicastery presentations in the last pontificate (Cardinal Ratzinger's CDF being the notable exception) veered toward the cathedratic style of "We talk, you listen," the bishops are now finding the Roman approach as "How can we best be of service to you?"

The other sea-change is that, when the bishops go upstairs for their individual audiences with the Pope, "There's no map-pointing anymore" -- shorthand that Benedict knows where the diocese is and has done his prepwork, including a thorough reading of the bulky Quinquennial Reports. While they've also been touched by the pontiff's relaxed graciousness as a host, the Teutonic regimentation is never far off; however enjoyable the conversation, the Pope knows when the 15 minutes are up.

Speaking of the Canadian bishops, their national conference will be holding its plenary from the 16-20th of this month. The highlights of the meeting will be a progress report on the 2008 International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec, a closed session in which the conference's restructuring plans will be addressed and an appearance by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in which the retired archbishop of Washington will address "Catholic involvement in public life and the social doctrine of the Church."

The Western bishops' sojourn in Rome has absented them from today's funeral in Quebec of Cardinal Louis-Albert Vachon, who served as the city's archbishop and the nation's primate from 1981-90. A Roman classmate of Karol Wojtyla's, Vachon died Saturday at the age of 94; he was created a cardinal by said classmate in 1985.

While Quebec may be Canada's primatial see, the archdiocese of Toronto is its most prominent. The quinquennial meetings behind, plans are quickening toward the appointment of a successor to 76 year-old Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, likely by year's end.... You could say the Pope's been "auditioning" the terna over the course of the visits.