Saturday, June 09, 2007

Why the Delays?

It's been mentioned here fairly frequently of late, but the hold-up on several major initiatives of this pontificate has made the Roman Curia a rather cagey place in B16's Vatican.

In light of said state of affairs, props to John Thavis of CNS Rome for taking a closer look at the deliberative pace of the papal apartment, with comment from the Holy See's top media op, Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi.
The examples abound:

-- The pope's letter to Chinese Catholics, announced in January, has yet to appear.

-- The papal document widening use of the Tridentine Mass, reportedly ready since last fall, is still awaiting publication.

-- A consistory to name new cardinals, expected in June by most Vatican officials, has apparently been put off until the fall.

-- A slew of key appointments, including the replacement of several Roman Curia heads who are past retirement age, keep getting deferred.

-- The streamlining of Vatican communications agencies, rumored to have been one of the pope's priorities following his election in 2005, still has not happened.

Why are things taking so long? The main reason, according to those inside the Curia, is that the pope believes some of these questions call for consultation and fine-tuning, rather than snap decisions.

"Documents like the one on China clearly require careful preparation, consultation and review, not only on the general lines of the text but also in particular expressions," said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.

He noted that once a document is finally approved, additional time is needed for translations. The translation phase in where the letter on China is said to be lingering.

As for curial appointments, Father Lombardi said replacing department heads may seem simple to outsiders, but such nominations are often tied to a whole series of other appointments or changes. Therefore a "concordance of circumstances" may be needed before they are announced, he said.

"One thing is clear: The style of this pope and his governance is to not allow himself be pressured or hurried, but to take all the time necessary," Father Lombardi said.

Journalists seem to be the ones most impatient with the pope's patience. A recent article in the Rome newspaper Il Messaggero, under the headline "The Curia Waits, the Pope Doesn't Decide," spoke of a growing "climate of uncertainty" inside the Vatican.

"This proceeding with excessive prudence seems to have caught even the highest officials of the curia off-balance," the newspaper said.

Some Vatican sources dismissed such speculation, saying these kinds of projects have always taken time, especially at the beginning of a pontificate. What has whetted the media's appetite is that several of the initiatives have been pre-announced, they said....

The pope apparently has decided to wait until this fall to name new cardinals. Sources say nominations will come in October, with a consistory in November. By then there will be at least 16 openings in the 120 "under-80" cardinals who can vote in a conclave.
The latter bit shouldn't be news to anyone here.