Saturday, May 06, 2006

Filling the Offices

Moving to integrate his first class of new cardinals into the daily administration of the universal church, Pope Benedict gave the 12 prelates under 80 years of age who were elevated to the college in March their dicastery assignments this morning.

The Pope is shown at a Mass held earlier today in St Peter's to mark the annual 6 May observance of the Swiss Guard. This year, the Guard's 500th anniversary made the rite even more celebratory.

The long-awaited dicastery list -- which arrives as speculation of a curial reshuffle returns to the fore -- contains no great surprises. However, of note is the relative absence from prominence of the March consistory's "star," Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, whose 27 years as private secretary to the late Pope John Paul II would have made him pre-eminently familiar with the competencies and work of each of the offices of the Roman Curia. Dziwisz was named to the memberships of the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

Also lacking high-profile assignments is Cardinal Carlo Caffara of Bologna, who will serve on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Fuelling further grist for the rumor mill of a Curial shake-up is the unusually high number of dicasteries which have received no new cardinal-members: the Pontifical Councils for the Laity, the Pastoral Care of Health Workers (the office responsible for the much-reported study on condoms and HIV), Cor Unum, and Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. With the exception of the Councils for the Family, which received two new members, and Social Communications, to which four cardinals were named, each of the other second-tier offices was given one new cardinal-member. No cardinals were named to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

At the level of the Congregations, which handle the church's internal functions, the Pope named the two new cardinals seen as his closest allies among the group -- the Spaniard Antonio Canizares of Toledo and the Frenchman Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux -- to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. (The Pope had already named those two, along with Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the CDF, to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei last month.)

Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong will join the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, alongside prefect for Religious Cardinal Franc Rode, CM. Rode and Levada were the only two new cardinals named to the Congregation for Bishops. However, it was but a reaffirmation -- the two are ex officio members of the body and have sat on it since their appointments to their primary curial posts.

The wish of Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley to maintain a low international profile has been honored by Benedict XVI. The Capuchin cardinal was named to two dicasteries, both Congregations -- Clergy, which now handles dispensations from the clerical state, particularly vis a vis sex-abuse cases; and the Congregation for Religious Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Reuters/Tony Gentile