Pope Francis and the Appointment of Bishops: “He Looks For the Most Progressive Candidates
Don’t forget to include LaDonna Cardinal Wuerl in the mix from his replacement for Cardinal Burke on the Vatican Congregation for [the Vetting of] Bishops.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
(Rome) Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the Roman faith prefect is not the only cardinal who is marginalized by Pope Francis (see Pope Francis and the Marginalization of the CDF). This also applies to another “Ratzingerian”, the French-Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect the Congregation for Bishops.
In his first interview with the atheist Eugenio Scalfari on the October 1, 2013 for the daily newspaper La Repubblica, Pope Francis said, looking at some members of the Roman Curia: “the court is the leprosy of the papacy “.
But Francis seems “to fight the leper and not the leprosy,” said Secretum meum mihi . The daily newspaper Le Journal de Montréal headline in yesterday’s edition: “Cardinal Ouellet no longer has the ear of the Pope”. Cardinal Ouellet is responsible, as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, for the appointment of bishops. His dicastery is preparing the appointment of bishops by the pope, is collecting the necessary information and recommends candidates.
Pope Francis “throws Ouellet’s recommendations in the trash”
Under Pope Francis, things have fundamentally changed: “Pope Francis has thrown his recommendations for the appointment of new bishops into the trash,” said the French-Canadian newspaper.
“It is worrying because it is the task of Cardinal Ouellet in Rome to propose in the Pope’s name, but he ignores them and decides on all other candidates,” said Quebec Religion specialist Alain Pronkin.
The French daily La Croix reported a few days ago that “it has already happened, that Pope Francis rejected all three names submitted to him by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, […] and even sought out others for direction. ”
According to the weekly magazine L’Espresso that was the case, for example, in the replacement of three important Sees: Chicago, Madrid and Sydney.
The appointments for Francis are not only a question of suitability, but a question of direction. The real revolution of Pope Francis is done by appointment .
Pope Francis looking for “the most progressive candidate”
According to Le Journal de Montréal , it was even “very rare” that the Pope follows the recommendations of the Cardinal, although that is his task and Cardinal Ouellet, through his staff, has the best overview of the situation in a diocese.
However, the Pope uses his own channels, not the official, but informal, and which may also come about by accident. According to Alain Pronkin, Pope Francis is looking for the “progressive candidates”. For this he has to rely on recommendations. What he rejects with Cardinal Ouellet are accepted from among the Pope’s confidants. In other words, the belief and understanding of the Church by Cardinal Ouellet, a Ratzingerianer, displeases the pope.
“A concrete example: The Pope believes in the fact that the divorced and remarried can receive Communion, while Cardinal Ouellet, however, expressed his rejection of this,” said Alain Pronkin.
The same applies to the issue of homosexuality.
For this reason, Francis shuns everything that is presented to him by Cardinal Ouellet and relies instead on labile random recommendations.
Recommendation by a progressive confidant enough to be Bishop
This was not quite by chance. The Pope operates by information obtained from part of the Jesuit Order. What is decisive for Francis is the progressive attitude of the candidates who must be confirmed to him by a confidant. That is enough. The Pope then needs no dossiers and reports, as they are presented to him by the Congregation for Bishops. A person’s recommendation of trust is sufficient to make someone a bishop.
The archdiocesan chair of Chicago is one of the most influential in the US. and Pope Francis rejected all three candidates that were presented to him by Cardinal Ouellet, in collaboration with the Apostolic Nuncio and the former Archbishop Cardinal Francis George. Instead, he appointed Bishop Blaise Cupich, who was regarded as one of the biggest outsiders in the episcopate of the United States because of his progressive views. Thus, Francis not only drove a splinter, but a real stake into the heart of the Catholic Church in the United States. Archbishop Cupich has already called for the communion for divorced and remarried and the acceptance of homosexuality.
Shortly before his death, Cardinal George wrote about the Synod of Bishops in Rome:
“The pope has said he wants to see on every question, and so it happened, so he got what he wanted, and now he has to fix it. […] This raises the question of why he does not clarify these things himself. Why is it necessary that apologists have the burden to find the best interpretation? He has not realized the consequences of some of his statements, or even his actions? Does he not realize the impact? ”
As is known, the post-synodal Letter of Amoris Laetitia did not receive papal clarification, for the “apologists” are busy again on the road, “to find the best interpretation”.
Appointments: Here the “revolution” Francis performs most effectively
Pope Francis has been working meticulously on a new personnel network on the decision-making level, which should lead the Church structurally well beyond his death in a particular direction. Maybe his personal policy, which is usually revealed very quietly, revealed even in the most important field of activity in which he transposes his vision of the Church vision. Here his “revolution” is at its most enduring.
According to Pronkin, Cardinal Ouellet could soon be replaced by Pope Francis. The French Canadian, says Pronkin, would not be the first high Curia employee who would deposed because of his criticism of the papal course. However, Francis had found a way to make the appointments himself, although the competent Congregation is in the hands of persons whose convictions he rejects. The informal, semi-clandestine appointments to official bodies in the past is not only a temporary solution, but probably corresponds to the disposition of the Pope and his aversion to rules and laws. [Or he doesn’t want to spend the political capital to get rid of him, when he can do the job himself.]
There have been advantages for the “revolution” of episcopal appointments that a Ratzingerianer still officially stands at the head of the Congregation for Bishops. It maintains the impression in the Church that there is a balancing counterweight, but one that does not exist in reality. [There were still very, very bad appointments under Benedict.]