[“If rumors had wings, they would fly”]
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
(Rome) At certain intervals the rumor mill surrounding the Roman Curia will run. Currently, there are several speculations, of which the most important would be particularly worrisome. Currently, however, it is unclear who is playing what game with the rumors, and which part of the gossip has veracity.
The previous Prefect, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, it is rumored, will be the new Bishop of Mainz and succeed there Cardinal Karl Lehmann, who was retired last May 16 with the completion of his 80th year. The new Cardinal Prefect of the Roman Congregation is supposed to be Vienna Archbishop Christoph Schonborn.
The fact is that the relationship between Pope Francis and Cardinal Müller is severely strained, while the President of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference is currently experiencing a flight of fancy in the papal favor. Both such contrasting movements have not the least to do with the Post-Synodal Exhortation Amoris laetitia. It’s not about questions of sympathy but a tangible and fundamental factional dispute. Behind this is the question of where Pope Francis will lead the Church. The Pope has ignored Cardinal Müller, who recently, along with the entire CDF, recently attacked. though only indirectly, the unassailable Pope Francis, but with a breathtaking statement, accusing the Pope’s ghostwriter, Titular Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, of being “heretical”. The three magisterial documents by the Pope: Evangelii gaudium (2013), Laudato si (2015) and Amoris laetitia (2016) all come from the pen of Fernandez.
Cardinal Schönborn in turn was also rumored in 2005 to succeed Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in the CDF. However, the German pope decided otherwise. In 2012, the Vienna archbishop hailed the decision, to appoint the then Bishop of Regensburg, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, as the new CDF, as an “excellent choice”. Since then, however, much has changed, especially the Pope in Rome.
Opaque backers and intentions
The rumor is to be treated with caution: First, the explosive reshuffle has been disseminated by the progressive media. In German-speaking parts it’s KNA, the press agency of the German Bishops’ Conference was responsible. Secondly, KNA published its information on the basis of information published in the faraway Malaysia Catholic Herald newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur. Verification was not even possible on demand. The probability that a diaspora institution would serve as the first media reporter of so far-reaching a reshuffle is not impossible, but extremely low.
The closer one comes to the progressive Spanish news site Religion Digital, which is known for its notorious papolatria since the recent conclave. It took over the role of KNA in the Spanish-speaking world and maintains good contacts with the Honduran Cardinal, Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga. The progressive organ headlined several times in recent months, with headlines in the way: “Francis Builds, Müller Destroys.”
Rylko back to Poland, Maradiaga still on his second attempt to Rome?
The rumors of personnel changes affect not only the cardinals Müller and Schönborn. According to the same source, the 77-year-old Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the longtime first secretary of Pope John Paul II., is to be replaced as Archbishop of Krakow by Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, the current President of the Council of the Laity. This would be due to the dissolution of the Council for the Laity, whose responsibilities will be incorporated into the upcoming September 1 Congregation for Family, Laity and Health Pastoral. The first prefect of the new congregation would be likely to be the Pope confidant Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras.
Maradiaga, who received the title of “Vice Pope” because of his euphoric appearance in the first months of the current pontificate is coordinator of the C9-Cardinal Council in support of Pope Francis in the reform of the Curia and the guidance of the universal Church. Recently, however, it was become pretty quiet around the Honduran Cardinal.
In 2010, he was already being talked about as candidate for a Prefect of a Roman Congregation. He was to take over the management of the Congregation of Religious. However, the Brazilian Joao Braz de Aviz was appointed, who has been hunting the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate since 2013. Stubborn voices wanted to know if Cardinal Maradiaga had recommended himself recommended for the Roman post.
Cardinal Angelo Amato, the current prefect of the Congregation of Saints is to be replaced because of his age of 78 years by the current substitutes of the Cardinal State Secretariat, Curia Archbishop Angelo Becciu. New assistant and thus right hand of Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin will be the current apostolic nuncio in Lebanon, Titular Archbishop Gabriele Caccia.
The next few days and weeks will bring clarity. Until then, the rumor mill should be given little credence, since for the time being things remain opaque, what game is to being played at and which part could be true. The fact is that the rumors claiming personnel switches around the CDF would drive the wedge of Pope Francis and his entourage deeper into the body of the Church. In the past few days another German cardinal, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, warned of the “very great danger” of a schism.