Thursday, August 31, 2006

Do You Hear the Statos Scream?

With 16 days looming until the new Secretary of State takes office, the Tarcisio Bertone Media Blitz is in full swing. And as Rome returns to life at the ebb of the August exodus, the panic is building in the Terza Loggia.

The sense of impending doom won't be helped any by an interview Bertone gave this week in the Italian press in which he's quoted as saying he'd rather be considered the "Secretary 'of Church' more than 'of State.'"

To quote one of the dicastery's more colorful characters, this can be interpreted as the new Boss telling San Damaso, "I don't want anything from you people!"

As if that wasn't enough to send the Vatican-types running for the Paxil, Zoloft and Xanax, the Salesian strongman's looking to collaborate with his once and future boss on building a "smaller, more agile" Roman Curia.

Agita all around, I tell you. Agita!
Cardinal Bertone noted that two reforms of the Roman Curia have been conducted over the last half century, "one right after the Second Vatican Council, by Pope Paul VI and another one by Pope John Paul II".

"After almost two decades, an evaluation of how the dicasteries are organised is more than comprehensible, in order to reflect on how to make the existing structures more efficient for the mission of the Church and eventually to consider whether all of them should be maintained."

The Cardinal also pointed out that he is "optimistic" in the face of the duties he will assume in two weeks, duties which will make him the closest cooperator with Benedict XVI....

Referring to his new role, Cardinal Bertone said that the Holy See's task is not so much "to defend the interests of the Church, but rather justice and the dignity of man, of all men, especially of the weak and those who suffer intolerable injustices and inequalities", a Zenit report adds.

Concerning the Middle East, Cardinal Bertone recalled that Benedict XVI has spoken of three rights: "That of Lebanon to its integrity as a sovereign country, that of Israel to live in peace, and that of the Palestinians to live in a homeland."
On 15 September, when Bertone is introduced as the new Lord of San Damaso by Papa Ratzi in an audience for the Stato staff, you'll sure be able to cut the love in the room. With a knife.

In other Stato news, it hasn't been officially announced yet, but word's flying around that one of the two key openings in the Vatican's top office has been filled. I'm told that, yet again, the Holy See's top English-language post will go to an American: Msgr Peter Wells, a priest of the diocese of Tulsa. Wells succeeds Archbishop-elect James Green, who'll be ordained to the episcopacy on 6 September after being named apostolic nuncio in South Africa earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the crucial appointment of the new Secretary for Relations with States -- the Vatican's "Foreign Minister" -- remains ever closer at hand....