Thursday, February 09, 2006

Il Segretatio Stakanovista


Last week, in announcing that local boy done good Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, was recovering from surgery to remove a tumorous kidney, I noted that the good archbishop has been without a deputy for almost a year, since the transfer of the "elegant" Renato Boccardo to the #2 slot at the Governatorato 50 weeks and one day ago.

The secretary's post at Social Communications is the longest-standing vacancy at the Roman Curia's superior level in memory. But it seems that, at long last, the time of Foley's expectancy is at an end.

In the pages of the just-released issue of the Italian magazine Panorama, Ignacio Ingrao reports that the name of Leonardo Sapienza, a priest of the Rogationist Fathers currently serving as an assistant for protocol in the Prefecture of the Papal Household, has surfaced as the likely appointee.

Together with Foley and undersecretary Angelo Scelzo -- the only layperson to hold "superior" status in any dicastery -- Sapienza, who would be elevated to the episcopacy if appointed, would enter the crucible of what is expected will become a beefed-up communications operation of the Holy See, to be centered in the PCCS (the Council's Italian abbreviation). Ingrao says that, in a motu proprio expected shortly, the Pope will reorder the Vatican's "complex" media apparatus, settling the currently dispersed elements of the Press Office, Osservatore Romano, Internet Office, Information Office, Vatican Radio, CTV (the Television Centre) and the Libreria Editrice Vaticana (the publishing house) all under one coordinated umbrella.

And it seems the prospective nominee is well-fit for the task: in his description of Sapienza, Ingrao places the word "stakanovista" high up in his story. The term is the Italian equivalent of "workaholic."

Suffice it to say, I know the feeling.

Sapienza has accumulated a prolific resumè, both administratively and in the academic realm. He is said to be at his desk in the prefecture -- from which he handles arrangements for all papal audiences -- by 7 each morning.

While much of his writing has had to do with vocations -- the Rogationists describe their mission as twofold: "praying for Vocations to the priestly and consecrated life in the Church and propagating this prayer worldwide; caring and promoting the human and spiritual welfare of orphans, needy children and the poor" -- he also released a book of the accumulated reflections of Paul VI on the Eucharist during the 2004-5 Year of the Eucharist. According to the Italian bishops' daily Avvenire at the time of the book's appearance, Sapienza said of it that "In the year of the Eucharist, it's useful to meditate on the teaching of Paul VI to reawaken the urgency of the Christian community to receive, celebrate and maintain the Memorial of the Lord's sacrifice."

Even more notably, the priest recently shepherded into publication a condensed Italian volume of Max Thurian's "The Eucharist." Thurian, a cofounder of the ecumenical community at Taizè who converted to Catholicism in the 1980s and was secretly ordained a priest, aroused controversy in reactionary church circles in the 1960s for his place as a Protestant collaborator in the liturgical reform. Before his 1996 death, however, Thurian submitted a major piece to L'Osservatore Romano criticizing what he perceived as the excesses of the post-conciliar liturgical movement.