Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Hitchhiker's Guide to "The Ratzinger Galaxy"

In the latest Panorama, the Italian magazine's Vatican writer Ignacio Ingrao takes a look into the cosmos surrounding Benedict XVI, where he finds some interesting things.

L'Affaire Wielgus marked but the latest blow separating the German Pope from Wojtyla's People, Ingrao says, noting in sequence that Benedict had curtailed what was supposed to be Cardinal Josef Glemp's lifetime reign as primate of Poland; denied a red hat to the Cravoian Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and retired Cardinal Edmund Szoka (the former archbishop of Detroit, but still a key figure of John Paul's "Polish mafia") from the Governatorato. What's more, the report says that the pontiff's next move will be to consign Polish Archbishop Edward Nowak, currently secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, "to the small church of St Stanislaus, as chaplain of Rome's Polish immigrants."

Of course, this "war of the flags" isn't just one of nationalities, but of allegiances within the Roman Curia. Longtime readers know that as much love is lost between the denizens of the Secretariat of State and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as it is between Yankees and Red Sox fans. And in light of recent events, the CDF Pope's "peace offering" to the Stato crowd is looking to be on the wane.

According to Ingrao, the communication of Benedict's decision to ditch the freshly-possessed archbishop of Warsaw wasn't made directly: it was conveyed to Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, by the Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone SDB in the sacristy of St Peter's following the 6 January papal liturgy to mark Epiphany Day. The disapproval of the current archbishop of Krakow, the legendary Wojtyla aide Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, to the Wielgus pick was noted; his memoir, titled A Life with Karol, rolls out on the shelves in Italy next week.

From there, a broad summary of Ratzinger's frustrated initiatives is enumerated: the indult for the Pian Mass, the "halted" plans for the reorganization of the Curia, Cardinal Sodano's foot-dragging on moving out of the Apostolic Palace digs that belong to the cardinal-secretary (a delay which literally kept Bertone consigned to the tower for three months), the "irritation" of the Legionaries of Christ over the public sanction of the order's founder on allegations of abuse.

Much of this, Ingrao says, stems from the reality that, two years in, the Pope "has paid dearly for lacking his own team," and that as the infighting raged, he spent much of his time in seclusion, working on the first ten chapters of his Jesus of Nazareth, which'll be released at Easter. However, with Bertone settled in at San Damaso, we're told that this year will finally see Ratzinger and his new Stato chief "having the better" over their in-house rivals.

With the piece, Panorama published a diagram of the various constellations of prelates surrounding Benedict, in differing degrees of closeness and by orbit of nationality.

Not surprisingly, the Poles were all at the outermost ends of the image. And intriguingly, Re doesn't appear on it at all.