Saturday, June 20, 2009

Out of Africa... of Sorts

And the successor to Pius Ncube is... an Indian missionary.

To follow the controversial native Zimbabwean who became a leading critic of the country's President Robert Mugabe, this morning the Pope named Fr Alex Thomas Kaliyanil, the local superior of the Divine Word Fathers, as archbishop of Bulawayo.

The politically sensitive appointment has been pending since September 2007, when Ncube's resignation was accepted after the 62 year-old prelate was accused of adultery in what, at the time, the archbishop maintained was a "well-orchestrated plan" by Mugabe and his allies to discredit Ncube for his globally-noticed protests of the country's authoritarian rule.

Several months later, the prelate admitted to the affair in a documentary interview.

Despite his background, the archbishop-elect, 49, doesn't come as a stranger to the Bulawayo church. Ordained in India in 1988 and sent to Zimbabwe the year after, since 2005 Kaliyanil has served as the diocesan comptroller, or treasurer. Despite his knowledge of the 140,000-member local church, however, today's appointee wasn't among the list of names floated there in recent weeks.

The move coincides with the feast-day of the archdiocesan patroness, the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

While Ncube's political outspokenness made his fall especially prominent, clerical celibacy in the breach recently cost another senior African prelate his job: last month the Pope accepted the resignation of 54 year-old Archbishop Paulin Pomodimo of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, amid reports that a Vatican investigation of the archdiocese found that several of its priests had children and set up their illicit families in "official homes."

As the clergy protested, some citing racism as an ulterior motive, a letter from Rome's lead official on the missions, Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias, was leaked to the local press.

"[M]any bad things have been done to the body of Christ through poor and scandalous comportments," Dias wrote in his assessment.

"It is pointless to deny what every body knows. There is no need judging the motives and circumstances of the evil that has been committed. Members of the national clergy, diocesans and religious, you are, in one way or the other, accomplice of the current situation, but each of you shall assume his own culpability proportionally to his own responsibility."

Likewise this morning, B16 chose from within his old office in quickly naming Archbishop-elect Gus Di Noia's successor as the #3 official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

A priest of Milan, Msgr Damiano Marzotto Caotorta has served as one of the Holy Office's desk chiefs since 2003. The new undersecretary, 65, began his work at the CDF in 1982, shortly after the arrival of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the dicastery's prefect.

After grumbling among the Curial old-guard, the move restores an Italian to one of the CDF's three lead slots. Before the Bronx-born Dominican's Tuesday appointment as secretary for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Sant'Uffizio trifecta was comprised of two Americans and a Spaniard.