Thursday, October 09, 2008

Heading Home?

Having garnered controversy with statements supporting the prohibition of receiving Communion in the hand and rapping bishops for their "disobedience" to Pope Benedict on the enhanced permission to celebrate the 1962 Missal, the pontiff has reportedly signed-off on Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith's transfer home to Sri Lanka to lead his native archdiocese of Colombo.

Currently the #2 official at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, unnamed Vatican sources indicated the 60 year-old prelate's move to Robert Mickens of The Tablet, who reports from Rome that "the Pope has 'already signed' the transfer" in this weekend's edition. Mickens' sources did not provide a time-frame for an official announcement.

Long an ally of Joseph Ratzinger, Ranjith's second stint as a Curial official began in December 2005, when the newly-elected B16 named him secretary of the dicastery overseeing the liturgy 20 months after the Sri Lankan was exiled from the Propaganda Fide to the apostolic nunciature in Indonesia after reported difficulties with his superior at the missionary office, the then-prefect Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, now the archbishop of Naples.

In the CDW post, Ranjith's utterances have made waves cheered by liturgical traditionalists. Last January, penning the preface to a Kazakhi bishop's book on worship, the archbishop said it was possibly "high time... to abandon" the post-Conciliar practice on the reception of Communion standing and in the hand -- an option which, he wrote, "was only accepted after its illegitimate introduction in some countries." Shortly thereafter, the Pope began administering the Eucharist solely on the tongue to kneeling communicants.

Along the same lines, in an interview with an Italian outlet late last year, Ranjith said that prelates opposed to Summorum Pontificum -- Benedict's "liberation" of the pre-Conciliar liturgy -- were allowing themselves to be "used as instruments of the devil," taking them to task for "disobedience... and even rebellion" wrought by attempts to rein in the motu proprio on the newly-dubbed "extraordinary rite."

Earlier this year, the archbishop was said to have voiced a desire to head home, ostensibly given the resistance his interventions had attracted.

In the subcontinental capital -- where he served as an auxiliary from 1991 to 1995 -- Ranjith would succeed Archbishop Oswald Gomis, who reached the retirement age of 75 last December. Home to 700,000 Catholics and founded in 1834 (when the then-British colony was still known as Ceylon), the Colombo church has had one cardinal in its history: the native-born Thomas Benjamin Cooray, who was elevated in 1965.

An Oblate of Mary Immaculate, Cooray retired in 1976 and died in 1988.

Meanwhile, the Italian and Spanish presses have both tipped the Spanish primate Cardinal Antonio CaƱizares Llovera of Toledo -- a former CDF staffer dubbed the "Ratzingerino" -- to take the helm at Divine Worship later this fall; the dicastery's current prefect, Cardinal Francis Arinze, turns 76 next month.