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Saturday, 31 August 2013

New Secretary of State and confidentiality


The big news today in ecclesiastical circles is that Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Pietro Parolin as Secretary of State. Since the reforms of Pope Paul VI, this is now considered to be the most important position in the Holy See after the Pope himself. Personally I'd like to see a return to the Holy Office being the most senior dicastery, the "Suprema" with a pro-Prefect as head in recognition of the fact that the successor of St Peter is the real Prefect.

That is probably not going to happen any time soon, so congratulations to Archbishop Parolin. here is his statement on the occasion of his appointment and here, courtesy of John Allen, is a translation of the last interview he gave before being appointed.

Here are some biographical notes from Vatican Insider. These were issued before the appointment which was widely leaked to Vaticanisti and via them to the entire world. Although I like to speculate as much as anyone else, I think that this process of leak-then-announcement is unfortunate. Surely it should be the Holy See that announces appointments, not journalists who have friends in high places? I don't blame the journalists but do question why officials at the Holy See choose to leak information. Along with everyone else, once a rumour surfaces publicly, I will gladly speculate about it, but actually I would be happy without this process. I don't suppose Pope Francis can completely stop the leaking of information but it would be a good thing if the Pontifical Secret were treated with a little more respect.

Archbishop Cyril Cowderoy of Southwark had a ruthless approach to rumours. If he moved a priest from one parish to another, he insisted that the move be confidential until the announcement was made. If it leaked out, he would sometimes actually cancel the move.

If someone tells me something and says that it is in confidence, I keep it confidential. Sometimes I am embarrassed by this by continuing to keep mum when in fact an official announcement has been made. This is no great hardship. I like to recall the pithy advice of St Josemaria Escriva:
How can you dare ask others to keep your secret, when that very request is a sign that you have not been able to keep it yourself? (The Way 640)
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