Sunday, July 17, 2005

More on The First 100

A lot of hay has been made of the piece from Magister the other day.

Bettinelli says that B16 "is less likely to leave matters of ordinary governance to his subordinates, like JP2 did with Navarro-Valls and Dziwisz. While he does have a certain group of people who work with him, they are much less influential than JP2’s inner circle, especially at the end of his life."

To put Navarro-Valls on a plane with Dziwisz as a policymaker is, at best, a naieve understanding of the operations of the Holy See from 1984. At worst, it's inept and an insult to Dziwisz, who has been insulted too much these days. JP had an inner circle of one: Dziwisz. Period. This Pope's circle, though wider and spread more thinly, is no less influential. Look at The Man Who Will Be Kingmaker, lo Statiunitense....

Even before the www.chiesa story broke, and having written extensively about Ingrid, I've become very intrigued with the figure of Birgit Wansing. While Stampa is not a theologian but a musician, translator and guardian of the Pope's sanity, Wansing is a force of theological heft whose voice carries weight with Ratzinger. Now that Ingrid has been integrated into the Curia, I'm told, her influence keeps increasing markedly, and her gentle hand is being felt.

Ostensibly with her Prefect's blessing, John Allen noted in The Rise that Birgit Wansing wrote an essay for L'Osservatore a few years back condemning animal cruelty as incompatible with Christianity. That's just fascinating. But it remains to be seen if she'll remain at the CDF or if she, too, will make the move once Levada is installed in Rome come September. Amato said in a recent interview that Wansing "is destined to change palaces," i.e. from the Holy Office to the Pope's direct service.

A major difficulty in the central coordination of the Curia -- a top reason why it speaks with so many voices -- is that, for all its many organs, there is no entity which could be seen as the Office of the Pope. The closest thing to this is State, to which his secretaries are accredited, where his correspondence is handled and the details of his major travel are worked out. The Prefecture of the Pontifical Household handles visitors and logstics, but where conflicts arise there is no gravitational force to balance the two, just the Pope himself and his secretary.

I have a funny feeling that this will be rectified in the coming shake-up, that we'll see the establishment of a properly constituted gathering of the Pope's own officials accountable to him alone and under his direct leadership, to assist in the increased effectiveness both of his own mission and that of the Curia which operates in his name. There'd be Georg, Ingrid, Birgit, etc... maybe a TNT or two to add to the glamour quotient.

And, of course, there'll be cats to keep the State mice at bay.



Blogger Perry Lorenzo said...

Rocco & gang:

Now I have just read "Sing a New Song for the Lord", a collection of Ratzinger's essays & speeches on Liturgy and music. Absolutely thrilling!!! His comparison of the Building of the Tabernacle in Exodus 35-40 to the 7 days of Creation in Gen 1, as well as unpacking both for a theology of Art, is one of the most exciting thngs I have ever read. I pray daily that he will bring this kind of excitement to his new office! (Does this make me a naive romantic? Or just a naive cat-lover?)

17/7/05 11:05  
Blogger Jeff said...

Now this post is vintage Rocco, what makes you a necessary read (as well as a compulsive one!) for Catholics and "Catholics" from one goofy extreme to the other and in the sensible middle.

Real expertise, sound judgment, facts distinguished from speculation, snappy and focussed prose, a broad and sympthetic view, and an abesence of tendentiousness and banality: Long may Rocco prosper!

17/7/05 16:25  
Blogger Sam Martini said...

Thanks Rocco - I enjoy the idea that B16 is retaining in his inner circle - through official appointments now - people who have known and worked with him for some time, who he trusts and are also competent/accomplished. I hope that their influence - gentle or otherwise - continues to be exerted and felt so this inspiring and increasingly pleasantly surprising Pope can make the most of his pontificate. This bodes well for the "management" of the Pope's time, energy, business and ministry in general. For some reason I also find it fascinating what a diverse group his inner circle are - as you say, with Dswisz, there was just the one guy. Keep the good info coming!

17/7/05 16:45  

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