Vatican Diary / The pope’s favorites
They are the cardinals, the bishops, the priests whom Benedict XVI has wanted to add to the participants in the upcoming synod. Three of them are from Opus Dei. And another three from Communion and Liberation
VATICAN CITY, September 22, 2012 – In recent days, another 36 names have been made public of churchmen whom Benedict XVI has called to be part of the thirteenth general assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will be held from October 7-28 on the theme: “The new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith.”
The names are those of 12 cardinals, 20 archbishops and bishops, 4 priests.
They will be added to the synod fathers elected by the episcopal conferences of the whole world and by the union of superiors general of the religious orders (who in any case must be approved by the Holy See and the official list of which has not yet been published), and also to the members of the assembly by right, like the secretary general of the synod and the dicastery heads of the Roman curia.
The leadership figures of the synod have also been appointed by the pope. Like the three presidents delegate, cardinals John Tong Hon, bishop of Hong Kong, Francisco Robles Ortega, archbishop of Guadalajara in Mexico, and Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Like the presenter general, Cardinal Donald William Wuerl, archbishop of Washington in the United States. And like the special secretary, Pierre-Marie Carré, archbishop of Montpellier in France.
Scanning the list of synod fathers appointed directly by the pope, one encounters names of churchmen who have been selected out of institutional propriety (like cardinal dean Angelo Sodano) or because they head important ecclesial organisms that include regional or continental episcopal conferences.
This latter is the case of Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, president of the Symposium des Conférences Episcopales d’Afrique et de Madagascar; of Cardinal Péter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest in Hungary and president of the Consilium Conferentiarum Episcoporum Europae; of Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay in India, secretary general of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences; of John Atcherley Dew, archbishop of Wellington in New Zealand, president of the Federation of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Oceania; of Carlos Aguiar Retes, archbishop of Tlalnepantla in Mexico, president of the Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano, CELAM; of Santiago Jaime Silva Retamales, auxiliary of Valparaiso in Chile, secretary general of CELAM.
Among the rectors of the pontifical Roman universities, the pope has selected as synod father the rector of the Lateran, Salesian bishop Enrico dal Covolo, who will find at the synod his two immediate predecessors at the head of the same university, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the pontifical council for the promotion of the new evangelization, and cardinal of Milan Angelo Scola.
As at the previous general synod of 2008, Benedict XVI wanted to number among the synod fathers Agostino Vallini, the cardinal vicar of the diocese of Rome of which he is bishop.
With his appointments, the pope can also insert among the synod fathers churchmen whom he esteems, or who have been particularly recommended by the secretary general of the synod or by the Roman curia, if they have not been elected by their respective episcopates. And this serves also to “balance” in a certain manner the results of the voting that has taken place in the episcopal conferences.
This seems to be the case of cardinals Joachim Meisner, archbishop of Cologne in Germany; Vinko Puljic, archbishop of Vrhbosna-Sarajevo in Bosnia; Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna; George Pell, archbishop of Sydney in Australia; Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagabria in Croatia; Lluís Martinez Sistach, archbishop of Barcelona in Spain; André Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris in France.
In most of the cases (Meisner, Schönborn, Pell, Vingt-Trois) these cardinals are more “conservative” with respect to the majority of their respective episcopates.
Looking next at the diocesan bishops included by Benedict XVI among the synod fathers, one can note, for example, the selection of the bishop of Toulon, Dominique Rey, of the more traditionalist-charismatic branch of the French Church.
Or that of the patriarch of Venice, Francesco Moraglia, Ratzingerian in doctrine and liturgy and with a pronounced social sensibility, who was chosen over more senior occupants of other Italian cardinalate sees, like Turin, Bologna, Naples, or Palermo.
Or that of the archbishop of La Plata, Héctor Rubén Aguer, the most illustrious representative of the conservative minority of the Argentine episcopate.
An appointment of a different character is that of the archbishop of Manila, Luis Antonio Tagle, among the authors of the history of Vatican Council II promoted by the “school of Bologna,” who at the previous two synods, when he was bishop of Imus, had been elected by his confreres, while now it was the pope who had to fish him out again.
Scanning the list of the prelates chosen by the pope as synod fathers, finally, two curiosities leap out at the reader.
Three out of twenty belong to the prelature of Opus Dei. These are the second successor of Saint Josemaría Escrivá, the Spanish bishop Javier Echevarría Rodríguez, as well as the archbishop of Los Angeles, José Horacio Gómez, and the archbishop of Guayaquil, Antonio Arregui Yarza, who in spite of being president of the Ecuadoran episcopal conference was not elected by his confreres. No second chance, however, for the only cardinal “elector” of Opus Dei, archbishop of Lima Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, whose Peruvian confreres preferred the archbishops Salvador Pineiro Garcia of Ayacucho and Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo.
And three others belong to Communion and Liberation, the ecclesial movement founded by Fr. Luigi Giussani. They are Fr. Julián Carrón, Giussani’s successor as president of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation; Filippo Santoro, archbishop of Taranto (already appointed a synod father in 2008 when he was bishop of Petropolis in Brazil); and Luigi Negri, the combative bishop of San Marino-Montefeltro, one of the few Italian dioceses visited so far by Benedict XVI.
Taking into account the fact that among the synod fathers is also the cardinal of Milan, Scola, it therefore emerges that no fewer than three of the seven Italian diocesan bishops who will participate in the synod come from Communion and Liberation (the other four are cardinals Angelo Bagnasco and Giuseppe Betori, Archbishop Bruno Forte and Patriarch Moraglia).
Considering that only half a dozen of the more than 200 Italian bishops are “ciellini,” it really seems that in Benedict XVI, in spite of the fact that in Italy CL has not enjoyed the favors of the press recently, his esteem for this ecclesial movement has not diminished.