Friday, June 05, 2009

Culto DiNoia?

On his California tour in 1998, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger spent a few minutes conversing with the then-director of doctrine for the US bishops, Fr Joseph Augustine Di Noia.

Three years later, the Bronx-born Dominican received a sudden call with the news that Ratzinger wanted the American at his left hand in the #3 post of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Even as Pope, B16 is said to have maintained a close bond with his trusted Undersecretary at the Holy Office. Now, it's being reported that the pontiff has tapped the friar known as "Gus" to serve in one of the Curia's most sensitive assignments... and for a Dominican whose election as the order's East Coast provincial was once "cassated" by the order's then (über-progressive) master-general, suffice it to say, it's quite the reversal.

Earlier today, Il Giornale's Andrea Tornielli -- the lead "court scribe" of the moment -- wrote that the USCCB vet would be named Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. In the #2 post at the dicastery overseeing the liturgy -- carrying with it the rank of archbishop -- DiNoia would succeed the controversial Malcolm Ranjith, understood to be "on the runway" for his native Sri Lanka as archbishop of Colombo.

With word of Ranjith's second "exile" from the Curia in circulation for the better part of the last year, the appointment of another Anglophone to Culto Divino has been seen as a necessity given both the congregation's management of the nearly-completed retranslation of the Roman Missal in English, and the lack of fluency in the language on the part of CDW's newly-arrived prefect, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera. Given the latter's history at the CDF, a DiNoia arrival in the second slot would secure the Latin church's "worship office" in doctrinal hands, reflecting the "lex orandi est lex credendi" ("the law of prayer is the law of belief") concept that underpins Benedict's thought on the liturgy.

In testimony to the Dominican's wide regard, a friend of the reported nominee has already chimed in on the reported nod, and quite happily so... just from a launch-pad one wouldn't necessarily expect:

Father DiNoia is one of the smartest people I have ever met. Even when we disagree, which was not infrequent, his arguments and his depth of learning made such disagreements a learning experience for me. He inhales literature and has always read the most recent journals of ideas, not just of theology but of politics and literature. I remember by mother once spending an entire brunch discussing novels with the good father while my Dad and I discussed the Red Sox. He is unfailingly gracious.

DiNoia’s selection for a post dealing with an issue that is near and dear to the Holy Father’s heart makes sense. The two have collaborated closely in the past. They know each others’ minds. It is not every day that you encounter news from Rome that is thrilling, but this is thrilling.

Among other top Curial posts slated to shift over the coming weeks are the presidencies of the Pontifical Councils for Christian Unity and Justice and Peace, where Cardinals Walter Kasper and Renato Martino have both long passed the retirement age of 75.