Shot Across the Bow for Cardinal Pell — Non-Bergoglians Have a Difficult Situation in the Roman Curia
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Cardinal George Pell and Cardinal Raymond Burke Have a Difficult Situation in Rome
(Rome) Some heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia have been removed by Pope Francis after his election to office. Others were left in office, but in fact isolated. Cardinal Pell is also under constant pressure.
The Dismissal of “Ratzingerians”
With the dismissals, it was not to questions of competence, but a directional decision. It touches on each convinced “Ratzingerianer”, a cipher, which is shorthand encapsulating a faithful understanding of the Church.
First, the Italian Cardinal Mauro Piacenza was replaced as Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, and at only 70 year of age shoved off for the honorary management of the universal Church but completely insignificant post of Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary. In 2010 Cardinal Piacenza had assisted Pope Benedict XVI. to raise the Curé of Ars, St. John Mary Vianney as a model and patron of priests. It was an attempt that failed however, owing to violent resistance among the high clergy who rejected a ‘pre-conciliar’ priestly style as “backward-looking.” Even the reigning Pope would not warm up to this priest model, replacing Cardinal Piacenza by a man of his choice.
The Catalan Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments , was considered a “little Ratzinger”. His rejection of the “new Mercy” by Cardinal Walter Kasper, he had already announced at the cardinal consistory in February, 2014. As a head of a Dicastry, Cardinal Cañizares would have been an ex officio member of the Bishops’ Synod on marriage and the family. However, Pope Francis appointed him shortly before the start of Synod 2014 as Archbishop of Valencia. His inauguration in Spain took place before the Synod opening day.
Immediately after the Synod was the American Cardinal Raymond Burke, who had, since 2008 been Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura and President of the Supreme Court of the Vatican State, had been literally chased from office.. Under Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Burke had a decisive influence on the appointment of bishops in the United States. Appointments, which created a healthy episcopate, in their orientation but found the reluctance of Pope Francis. In December 2013 he removed Cardinal Burke from the Congregation for Bishops and from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
The real clash of opposing positions, however, would only be to follow. Cardinal Burke, a brilliant canon lawyer, was the spokesman for the defense of Catholic marriage and morality against the Kasper theses at the Synod of Bishops, 2014. He hinted at tampering on a grand scale with which the Synod of Bishops was canted in a progressive direction. He was so outraged that there could be such a thing in the Church, he hinted that the manipulation was carried out by papal support. Shortly before the start of the Synod, an anthology to defend the marriage sacrament and the natural family appeared at the initiative of Cardinal Burke with contributions by five well-known cardinals. The annoyance was so great that loud rumors began to circulate, Pope Francis cherished the intention to remove the cardinal from Rome in the papal environs. The threat would be a shot across the bow of Cardinal Burke to hold back at the Synod of Bishops. However, the US cardinal would not to be intimidated. Less than three weeks after the end of the Synod, Pope Francis acted on his threat and removed Cardinal Burke from the Roman Curia. As Cardinal Patronus of the Sovereign Military Order, the Cardinal has no more influence on the leadership of the Church. Above all, he was therefore excluded from participating in the Synod of Bishops, 2015. The deposition can also be seen in connection with the provisional administration of the traditional Order of Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. In a regular trial would be the case ended up as a last instance on the table by Cardinal Burke. It was a probability that they obviously did not want to risk in the papal circle.
The interventions involved the central areas clergy, liturgy and sacraments and the Supreme Court. With the appointment of Cardinal Robert Sarah, succeeding Cardinal Cañizares, Pope Francis barely reached what he had intended. Cardinal Sarah developed the new office to become one of the most famous and outstanding cardinal figures. The integration of Africa into the “Latin American Agenda” has so far failed miserably. The African Synod was valuable during the Synod of Bishops in 2015 with an energetic resistance against the “liberal Kasperians” ( Messa in Latino ).
The Marginalization of the Remaining “Ratzingerian”
The depositions of leading Church representatives will have disciplined others who do not want to suffer the same fate. Pope Francis is considered an expert strategist. Too many personal interventions have made a reconstruction of the Church obvious. The “right” dosage protects an open flank. The dicastry heads, with an unspoilt understanding of the church have little in common with Pope Francis, are ignored and marginalized by it. This concerns two more of the nine Curial Congregations: the Congregation of Faith and the Congregation for Bishops. Faith Prefect Cardinal Gerhard Müller and Bishop Prefect Cardinal Marc Ouellet were indeed left by Francis in office and dignity, but isolated. See:
At Cardinal Müller: Pope Francis and the marginalization of the CDF
to Cardinal Ouellet: Pope Francis and the appointment of bishops: “He is looking for the most progressive candidate”
This has the optical advantage that the Roman Curia seems “balanced” from the outside and more parts of the Church in Rome could feel somehow represented. It does not match the actual internal power relations. Pope Francis rules autocratically.
Cardinal George Pell: Dismissal from Australia
Another cardinal not trusted by Pope Francis. The Australian Cardinal George Pell is for the pope’s progressive entourage, “the other side.” When Pope Francis announced a month after his election, the establishment of a Cardinal Council that should assist in the reform of the Roman Curia and the guidance of the universal Church, he adopted a geographical key. Each continent should be represented by one Cardinal in the new body. Cardinal Pell was at this time the only Cardinal of Oceania and slipped inevitably into the so-called C8 Council of cardinal advisers (today C9 council of cardinal advisers). It was an unintentional “glitch” like the successor of Cardinal Cañizares.
Cardinal Pell was appointed in February 2014 even to the Roman Curia and appointed Prefect of the newly established Economic Secretariat. Actually an appreciation. First, the new dicastery existed only on paper, while Pope Francis had received the opportunity to restructure the Australian episcopate. Cardinal Pell was the dominant figure on the fifth continent because of his personality and his rank. Francis rejected all three proposed candidates for the successor of the Archbishop of Sydney, which had been suggested to him by the competent Cardinal Ouellet and Congregation of Bishops in consultation with Cardinal Pell. The Pope appointed a candidate of his choice. How this came about, was, as in other cases, completely opaque. According to the Canadian religious experts Alain Pronkin Pope Francis seeks the most “progressive candidates”. He does not rely on the competent institutions, but to the recommendations of personal confidants.
There was puzzlement in Rome about the appointment of Cardinal Pell to the Curia. The most credible explanation seems that Pope Francis thus, made the same attempt as that made by the Pope John Paul II with Walter Kasper: Push back his influence in the home country by transportation and involve him in the papal agenda. But the Australian cardinal moved to Rome not of his convictions and proved in the Synod of Bishops as very staunch defender of Catholic marriage and morality. At the Synod in 2014, he continued his defense against the Kasper theses, although his microphone had been turned off by the Synod against the rules of procedure. About his situation it was said: “Some get dirty.” Cardinal Burke called out the “dirty game” publicly and was promptly punished.
Again and again, therefore, there was of papal displeasure against Cardinal Pell’s speech, or of “maneuvers” to remove him from Rome. There is also concern is also on the side of the Cardinal himself and reflects a general uncertainty in the Roman Curia. Whoever does not belong to the progressively aligned, narrow court of the Pope, spends his time in Rome with some trepidation.
The PriceWaterhouseCoopers action
Yesterday it was announced that the contract for the audit of the Holy See by the company PriceWaterhouseCoopers was to be “suspend.” The accounting firm founded in 1865, headquartered in Frankfurt had taken over the external Audit of the Holy See and of Vatican City, as well as its tax advice. The relevant negotiations were handled by Pope Francis’ Economic Council, headed by Cardinal Reinhard Marx as project coordinator. The commissioning of the Frankfurt-based company was announced last December 5, 2015. The duration of the contract relates to a period of three years. The order volume amounts to three million euros. The contract with PriceWaterhouseCoopers was signed by Cardinal Pell as the competent prefect.
On the 20th and 23rd of February, the Cardinal had informed all Vatican offices that are subjected to investigation. Therein, the chief officers were informed that PriceWaterhouseCoopers itself will be put in touch with them and that they would issue a permit that the auditors can talk to all competent managers of offices and which includes cooperating with them.
In recent days, the State Department suddenly issued a contrary order. All Vatican offices received a letter from Cardinal Secretary of State Parolin and his substitutes curia Archbishop Becciu that the Audit is “suspended.” “A decision that can not be done without the consent of the pope,” said Vatican Insider .
This involves neither PriceWaterhouseCoopers nor their work. It isn’t related to the “resistance” of some offices, wishing to avoid supervision. It involves “only” formal legal aspects.
Since last year, after a start-up time, the statutes were adopted for the Secretariat of the Economy and the Economic Council, the formal conclusion of the award of the contract does not comply with the intended procedure. This gap must be closed in accordance with the statutes and newly awarded the contract. He promulgated again PricewaterhouseCoopers. The measure would be to “rehabilitate” only formal errors that might otherwise give rise to legal complaints.
“Message to Cardinal Pell, who has the last word”
The details of this “strange” operation remain opaque. The C9 Council of cardinal advisers (to which Pell belongs) had been expressly discussed concerning orders to external firms just as Cardinal Secretary of State Parolin and Cardinal Coordinator of the Economic Council Marx. All the more astonishing is the intervention of the State Secretariat.
The situation this causes is embarrassing only for Cardinal Pell. He has signed the contract with the consent and on behalf of other, at least this suggests it. Worse there is the impression he is not capable of leading his office and — even worse — not contractible. Now there is the impression that he was unable to perform his duties.
Therefore Pell let it be known by a spokesman for the Economic Secretariat, “to be somewhat surprised” by the letter of the State Secretariat. But he was convinced that the “work of PriceWaterhouseCoopers will continue soon.”
The Vatican expert Edward Pentin ( National Catholic Register ) sees in the whole operation a “message” to Cardinal Pell. Apparently they wanted to give him to understand who’s boss. He certainly did not.
Yesterday, Cardinal Pell was received by Pope Francis. It is to be assumed that the audience is in direct connection with these events. The moral of the story: Curia staff, the highest ranking that do not belong to Pope Francis’ alignment [Chaotic Evil?], have a tough time at the Roman Curia.