Monday, December 16, 2013

Changes at the Congregation for Bishops

As others have pointed our, most significantly the Erastian Wuerl who defends Communion for dissident, anti-Life politicians is in and Burke is out. Fortunately Cardinal Ouellet is confirmed as Prefect, and interestingly Archbishop Nichols is appointed as a member of the dicastery, presumably to await his red hat in the next consistory. If the rumours of a hold up in the episcopal appointments because of ice between Westminster and the Nunciature are true, then one side has now won and we can expect a few appointments in the not too distant future as the magic circle takes up its slow dance once again.

The list of those appointed and reappointed, seems to follow the pattern of other Franciscan appointments. Professor Ratzinger was tolerant of those who had good minds but might disagree with him, Francis has an entirely different approach, maybe as a way of avoiding factions. It will be significant to see who will replace Cardinal Burke at the Apostolic Signatura, though I suspect a heavy hand on the Church's Law will be a mark of this Pontificate, at least in certain areas, as we have already seen with the FFIs.

Despite a hope for a modicum of pluralism, though we well might see de-centralisation, it will be based on the same old models, so no real change, just a passing impression of one.


TLMWx said...

Cardinal Burke is the real deal. He is a most saintly man.

Wynn said...

Could this actually be any more depressing?

Unknown said...

Very sad news

JARay said...

Come Holy Ghost Creator come
From thy bright heavenly home.

Unknown said...

Ironically I just saw an interview with Cardinal Burke where he once again defended the position of not allowing pro abortion politicians to partake of communion. He still stands for strict enforcement of Canon 915, I simply don't understand why this pope or past popes have not universally mandated a specific directive to disallow "Catholic" politicians who support abortion from receiving communion.

The Bones said...

'Could this actually be any more depressing?'

Yep. It could always be worse.

Mall said...

Cardinal Burke is a rock. He won't change to satisfy a passing fad. He's younger than most of his peers, and much more in touch with the new wave of young, traditional priests. I feel very sorry for him, that he has to endure this public humiliation, but I suppose it's just the Lord's way of leading him to even greater holiness. His day will come - the Lord's day that is, and Cardinal Burke's. The long game!

Genty said...

And it probably will be.

Nicolas Bellord said...

I get the impression that the Pope has taken steps to correct some misunderstandings of his earlier speeches. I suspect though that it will be rather longer before he realises that he may have made mistaken appointments. Unfortunately we will be stuck with the results of mistaken appointments for many years.

Hughie said...

"It will be significant to see who will replace Cardinal Burke at the Apostolic Signatura..." I think everyone is getting this way out of perspective. There is absolutely NO reason to believe that Cardinal Burke is for the chop at the Signatura. Let us try to apply a little commonsense in interpreting what has happened to him in relation to his discontinued membership of the Congregation for Bishops. It is common knowledge that immediately after his election Pope Francis informed all the superiors of the dicasteries (departments) of the Roman Curia — the Cardinal/Archbishop Prefects, Cardinal/Archbishop Presidents, the Archbishop/Bishop/otherwise Secretaries and, where appropriate, the Under-Secretaries, or equivalent — that they were confirmed in their posts “donec aliter provideatur”, that is pending any future possible arrangements being made. Put simply, they were to continue as before until further notice. What was less widely known was that the operation of the “quinquennium” had been suspended. Normally, appointments to positions within the Roman Curia are for a five year term (the quinquennium). This is stipulated by Article 5 §1 of Pastor Bonus: “The prefect or president, the members of the body mentioned in art. 3, § 1 (the dicasteries), the secretary, and the other senior administrators, as well as the consultors, are appointed by the Supreme Pontiff for a five-year term.” I cannot remember precisely when Cardinal Burke was named as a member of the Congregation for Bishops but it must be nearer than not to five years. When appointed he was still well in touch with what was going on in the States. He isn't now and so the Holy Father has taken the opportunity to bring in someone who is. So why make a big deal out of it? The Holy Father left Pope Benedict's appointee as Prefect in place having previously promoted his appointee as Secretary, Mgr Baldisseri, to be Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops which he is determined to beef up, possibly to erecting it as a Congregation. Mgr Baldisseri's successor was appointed from within the dicastery. I don't see any evidence of any purge.

One additional point. The nomination of the Archbishops Vincent Nichols (Westminster), Pietro Parolin (Secretary of State), Beniamino Stella (Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy) and Lorenzo Baldisser (Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops) is confirmation enough that they will also be on the list of new cardinals, which will most likely be published during the General Audience of Wednesday, January 8.

PS: The other important Burke, Mgr Patrick, has now been confirmed as a co-Vicar General (one of three) of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh. As far as I am aware the Archdiocese has made no formal announcement, at least to the media, but it is now confirmed on their website. This follows on from last week's announcement that Bishop Stephen Robson, auxiliary and VG, is to be the new Bishop of Dunkeld (installation on the evening Thursday, January 9).

johnh said...

Not good. Not good at all for these shores. Clearly the appointments of +Davis and +Egan were a flash in the pan. Its very worrying to think that Vin and Cormac are having a joint hand in filling the top table at Eccleston. Even from here , I can smell the freshly ironed polyester in Liverpool , Hallam and Leeds to name just three. Many more depressing years of no decision , no action , back slapping from our heirarchy. The sound of no hands clapping. Red hats and hobnobs all round.

Et Expecto said...

In reply to Hughie, it does seem that there is an underlying purpose behind these changes. The removal of Burke, a very senior and respected cardinal, is an action that is bound to send a strong message, and taken collectively, there is a major shift emphasis.

The appoint6ment that is most significant for us is Vincent Nicholls. Although he could be considered a replacement for Murphy O'Connor, he could hardly be regarded as a very senior prelate. If a European was required, it would have been natural to choose one from a predominantly Catholic country, such as Poland.

The appointment gives credence to the rumour that has been going around that Cardinal Murphy O'Connor has been exerting significant influence on the new Pope. It also gives credence to the other rumour that many of the bishops of England and Wales don't care much for the nuncio, Archbishop Menini, and the names that he is putting forward as potential bishops. By having one of their men as a member of the Congregation of Bishops, the bishops will be able to block names put forward by7 the nuncio that are not to their taste.

It does seem that the magic circle has managed to re-establish their controlling grip on affairs in England.


Good riddance, he won't be missed. This Pontificate is just getting better and better and BETTER!

Anonymous said...

I am uttterly depressed by this. As an ex-sspx'er who came "home" in the pontificate of good Pope Benedict, I am starting to wonder if the SSPX is right. Here we are at the mercy of a - let's be honest - either liberal or clueless Pope and his lieutentants, some of whom are plainly demonic, who are at war with real Catholics. Our bishops are - with a few honourable exceptions, at best, spineless, but many are downright demonic. The "country club career cardinals", "spineless" prelates and demonic, are being put in control - with few exceptions. From day to day we wonder what enormity will be next, what faux pas will be explained away by the Pope's defenders. The cards are on the table. "The spirit of Vatican II" is back with a vengeance and the boot is on their foot.
Can an one give me a good reason why I should not admit my wife and her family were right and return, tail between the legs to the SSPX, which "tells it like it is".

Liam Ronan said...

Ok. Ok. I concede this is one great approaching train wreck a'comin' but (if you have a sense of humour) you might get a laugh out of this old 1971 Hoyt Axton song appropriately titled "Have a Nice Day" ('When It All Comes Down I Hope It Doesn't Land On You').

Black humour for black times. I've made this my anthem. This is meant in good fun folks.

The Strange Council said...

The treatment of Card. Piacenza might have been a fluke but the ouster as well as Cards. Bagnasco and Burke is a trend. The Curia is being purged of the seeds of renewal planted by Benedict XVI.

What do we do, Fr.? Do we simply endure the endless, gratuitous abuse streaming forth from our Holy Father's mouth? Ignore the mounting signs of his alignments with the forces of corruption which his predecessor tried and failed to remove from the Church? Suffer yet more scorn from his legions of suck-ups who are already calling us the "good brothers" of the Prodigal Sons to whom Pope Francis is supposedly appealing -- and yet none of whom are actually returning?

Is there anything we can do, or can we only fast and pray?

Fr Ray Blake said...

"gratuitous abuse streaming forth from our Holy Father's mouth"

I don't hear that, but when we are frightened or confused we cling more firmly to the Cross. Christ offers us Salvation not security.

smoothvelvet said...

I have followed the good and great Cardinal Burke over the last twenty five year in the US and Rome, How could they move a good man. So that say a lot about the new pope, when you see how's moving up the and how's get put down, And we have the upcoming chance by the new pope in the new year,All we can do is pray that Our Lord will show the pope the way it take the holy church in the new year. and the come years.

Православный физик said...

Sounds like our good "Self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagian" Cardinal is going to be moved to Chicago...anyone who dares speak against the new program of our humble pope must be moved asap...*snarkiness off*

johnh said...

Is there ANY chance we can have Cardinal Burke for Westminster ? Please Santa !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sixupman said...

Churches are emptying, as they say in Cumberland, "quicker than snow of the dyke back in Spring" and we are about to see a return to that which generated the exodus.

"By their fruits ......... .".

Anonymous said...

What do we do?

We need to get answers from the Holy Father. Clear answers to calm nerves and salve souls.

At the top level, that means individuals with erudition and influence, e.g. Alice von Hildebrand, need to approach Francis in some venue and ask him for words of precise reassurance along with permission to convey them to the world.

At our level, it means write him. If his thing is to stay in contact with Joe Pew Everyman, write him of your fear and heartache. Be polite, but tell him. Include your phone number and email address. Hey, you never know.

For all of us together? Pray and fast, fast and pray.

Anonymous said...

It's just one depressing appointment after another.

Wynn said...

"Fast and pray"? Oh dear. I think I smell a self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagian. Remember we've got to be joyful the entire time, otherwise we're "far from Christ"!

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

Cardinal Burke - when this man speaks, I don't have a crisis of faith. Otherwise,most every new teaching from Rome tells me I'm a bad mad and sad Christian...just because. Is one really embracing satan if one feels sad? have you noticed how automatic 'word correction' gives satan a big 's', even if you don't want it too - i had to work at those small 'Ss'; if only the bishop of Rome weren't working so hard to not only make them capital but give them flourishes of a politically correct ugly utilitarianism, of course. yes, I mock the man in white with the black shoes because if I swallowed his 'mission', my faith would die a worldly death, just like the diocese I live in seems to be doing. I once, being sinfully scrupulous, emailed a priest about receiving Holy Communion in the hand (that issue was already quashed as local custom ruled the day) from the extraordinary and very casual ministers. (as one woman, not religious, once commented about the small community of nuns in a her town - ' I never knew nuns lived here, they must be in disguise').

anyway, the priest's response was to hold up the line and head for priest no matter; he also reminded me that there were numerous parishes across the face of the planet where they would be lucky to have a priest stop by for a Mass once in a blue moon, so on that score, be thankful.

which Cardinal was it who recently said that all Catholics who think and feel with the Church realise the reform was a success? I guess the cardinal doesn't matter - it came from the mind of an idea of church where when Jesus wept, he became God-less.

Gungarius said...

Catholic Culture has an article which gives a little more perspective into the FFI situation.

Extracts: "The Vatican intervened only after several respected FFI members appealed to Rome for help, citing difficulties with the leadership of the order."..... "In response to a questionnaire submitted to FFI members as part of the Vatican inquiry, 61% of the respondents said that there were significant problems with the FFI leadership, and most said that the problems were not likely to be resolved without Vatican intervention."

The readiness of commenters in some quarters to turn on the Holy Father before being in full possession of the facts is sad.

If it really was a persecution of the old rite, would Fr Volpi have permitted the FFI churches in England to still have all their normal schedule of EF ceremonies, as is evidenced by the LMS Mass schedule.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Thank you Gungarius for that reference. The full article can be read at:

It certainly provides a fuller picture but still not a complete one. The 61% vote was actually a bit more complicated:

"Slightly less than two-fifths said that the Minister General was governing well; 61 percent said that there were significant problems. Of the latter group, almost three quarters thought that the problems could not be resolved by an Ordinary General Chapter but required either an Extraordinary General Chapter or a Vatican-appointed Commissioner. The response to the question about the Minister General’s decisions in liturgical matters was similar: almost two to one, the friars admitted that there were problems, and about half of the respondents said that extraordinary measures were needed to resolve them (77 percent of 64 percent = 49.3 percent). Finally, more than half (53 percent) said that relations with the Superior General of the Sisters’ Institute were problematic, and of them, 85 percent considered extraordinary measures necessary. "

So it is not clear how many wanted the Vatican to intervene in preference to an Extraordinary General Chapter. Whether "extraordinary means" refers to action by such a Chapter is not clear either.

The article refuses to comment on leaked letters such as the December 8th one. Well it may have been leaked but it is now in the public domain so it seems a bit disingenuous to ignore it. The article describes the letter as "supposed to be a traditional Advent letter to confreres with spiritual exhortations ". Blimey I wonder what a Christmas card from Volpi would be like!

Obviously there are deep problems in the FFI not just concerning the form of the Mass. However I still feel accusing the founder's family of embezzlement is a bit over the top. The founder Father Manelli has been certified by his doctors as not being in a fit state to answer correspondence. This suggests mental illness so a word of sympathy rather than criticising his failure to answer questions might have been apposite.
It does look as though there have been severe problems of communication with the Founder which needed sorting. But does that justify the extreme measures imposed on the FFI by Volpi?

Gungarius said...


Thanks for that. I have to admit that I greeted the reports with unease at what seems an overreaction but I think we have to wait and find out more, especially as the UK FFI seems to be unaffected.

I fear that just as freemasonry in this country is fairly benign compared with freemasonry in Europe, the same may be the case with traditionalism. I fear that certain traditionalist elements in Europe are mixed up with certain political traditionalist elements (the Erich Priebke affair springs to mind).

Much as I love the EF, I find the traditionalist movement quite offputting and some of them remind me of certain slighly unhinged people you can find at preserved railways who are convinced that the railways could still be run with steam engines and only a wicked conspiracy stopped this.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Anything that becomes a 'movement' tends to oddness.

Lepanto said...

Now we know fairly clearly where we stand, I was previously unsure. I am glad about some clarity at last, even thought I am sorry about what has now become clear, I can now better handle it.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Gungarius: I have read this article again and also looked at the source material on the FFI website.

On the website in a letter of 6th December Father Volpi says:

"However I know for a fact that Father Stefano Maria Manelli has specifically imposed the Latin Mass as the only permissible form of celebration in seminaries and novitiates. "

Surely such an imposition to use only the EF mass is wrong.

The result of the survey saying that 61% agree that there are very serious problems requiring extraordinary measures is a fact. There seems to be a real problem with the founder in that his doctors say he is incapable of reading or replying to correspondence. Maybe old age is taking its toll mentally and it is time for him to hand over matters.

Father Volpi seems to be having problems with a minority in the order but a minority that has received the support of outside traditionalist groups who may have sinister motives as you suggest.

But even so if the founder is incapacitated and Father Volpi has the support of the majority I still cannot see the need for the measures he has taken. Or is he claiming that a small minority of disobedient members have taken control of key positions in the order and only draconian measures will oust them?

Lastly the brother-in-law of the founder is only the secretary of the Association which holds the assets. In my experience a secretary of an Association is merely the servant of those who control an Association - generally the trustees and have no power over assets. The accusation is that assets are "available" to him. Well I suppose a secretary could literally put his hand in the till and take out money - probably the petty cash. But until one has evidence of actually appropriating property then it is not right to accuse the family of the founder of embezzlement.

I am very glad to hear that the FFI in the UK are unaffected by all this. I have attended several "Days with Mary" and met with religious of the FFI. I have found them absolutely marvellous and I am a great admirer of their work. Their liturgy is traditional with much in latin but so far it has always been the NO. Their following seems particularly strong amongst the immigrant and ethnic minorities. A bit of a contrast with the white middle-class dissenting Catholics I find elsewhere.

EuropeanCatholic said...

There is a very good article here via the Eponymouse Flower blog about why Cardinal Burke was probably removed from the Congregation for Bishops:

It's usually one step forward and two steps back when I think about Pope Francis.

When I read some of the Pope's writings, I draw much encouragement.

But then I read his address to the Curia today and I'm unimpressed. Benedict's end of year addressess were so profound.

Today, Francis' end of year address seems (to be very frank) quite a lazy address? There's not much depth at all to it.

Francis remains quite an enigma for me, but I thought the address today was not worthy of the occasion?

And he keeps referring to himself always as the Bishop of Rome, never the Pope.

As 2013 draws to a close, the enemies of the Church whether rightly or wrongly have drawn strength from this Pontificate and that is not a good thing.

It does appear the See of Peter has fallen silent on the issues of our time such as gay marriage, abortion and euthanasia.

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...