Pope Benedict's appointments

Sandro Magister excels himself in his weekly article today. Ratzinger's New Team Trains in the Holy Office offers a good overview and analysis of Pope Benedict's curial appointments with some speculation on possible future moves.

In the past year, I have often discussed the beginning of Pope Benedict's papacy with people who are disillusioned or impatient, wondering when he will do something. My own view is that the opportunity for a thorough reform of the Roman Curia is rare - perhaps only one Pope in a century has the capacity, experience and "inside knowledge" to deliver such a reform. Pope Benedict certainly fits the "person spec" with more than two decades of experience at the CDF. This experience has given him an unparalleled authority within the Vatican and, at the same time, has enabled him to know in considerable detail the particular problems which the Church faces today.

The reform of the Curia is important because of the impact of the Curia on the Church as a whole. To take one example of a line of influence: the Secretariat of State is responsible for the Nuncios who are in turn responsible for recommending candidates for the episcopacy. A Pope can make a few spectacular appointments - as indeed Pope John Paul did - but effective delegation is as essential in the Church as in any large organisation if reform is to be lasting.

If a Pope is able to appoint key personnel according to a clear vision of the needs of the Church, then every stage in the process of making episcopal appointments is reformed in a way that is self-perpetuating. The effects of such a reform are therefore solid and lasting.

None of this is intended in any way as a criticism of Pope John Paul. A part of his papal vocation, one might say, was to use his personal charisma to appeal directly to the populus Dei; something he did with tremendous effect for the future of Eastern Europe, for example. My own view is that Pope Benedict has a different, but also crucially important, vocation which will, in God's providence, benefit the Church for a long time to come.

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