Saturday, June 02, 2007

Dockets at Home and Abroad

On Thursday, a day before transferring his Secretary of Catholic Education back to Canada, the Pope received Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, the congregation's prefect.

Ostensibly, the matter of Archbishop Michael Miller's successor came up -- as with bishops in the trenches, top dicastery officials are selected from a terna, on which an affected prefect has input. Given Benedict's strategic eye, don't be surprised if he already has his choice in mind.

Since 1976, the #2 official at the dicastery overseeing Catholic universities and seminary formation has been culled from a religious order, with extensive experience in the church's work in higher education. Miller was a university president; his predecessor, Archbishop Giuseppe Pittau, SJ, was rector of Rome's Gregorian University, and now-Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, who served as Catholic Education's #2 from 1988-98 before becoming the Vatican's lead saintmaker, served for nine years as rector of the Urbaniana.

With Miller's appointment as coadjutor archbishop of Vancouver, a key tipping point has been reached in Benedict XVI's gradual reshuffling of the top ranks of the Roman Curia. When filled, the vacancy at Catholic Education will be the fifth congregation secretary named by Benedict, giving his appointees a majority of the crucial posts for the first time. Alongside his prior designees to fill the #2 slots at the Congregations for Divine Worship, Clergy, Causes of Saints and Institutes of Consecrated Life, Papa Ratzi has named two of the Secretariat of State's top three officials (with the trifecta said to be close at hand), and prefects at the CDF, Clergy, and Propaganda Fide, with the Oriental Churches widely believed to be on-deck.

For those keeping score, it should also be noted that the original April report forseeing Miller's transfer to British Columbia was the same Marco Tossati piece in Turin's La Stampa which caused Transatlantic tremors by floating the possibility of the appointment of Cardinal William Levada, the CDF prefect, as archbishop of New York.

Closer to home, building on the other day's summary of the US' appointment docket, one keen number-cruncher has reported that, to keep pace with superannuations alone, the American hierarchy would need new appointments at a clip of one every three and a half weeks... for the next 18 years. No kidding.

As of this writing, though, it seems the days to come might just get up to speed with that assessment.