Monday, January 13, 2014

On Cardinals and Curial Reform

I would like to briefly address reform of the Roman Curia, in light of the apparent abolition of the appointments of Chaplains to His Holiness to those priests under the age of 65 and the release of the names of those bishops to be named to the College of Cardinals in the consistory of February 22.

This is important for the external displays of power in the Church can affect our spiritual lives. Look at the Society of St. Pius X. They are for all intents and purposes in schism, separated from communion with the Roman Church and the local church, because of the way clerics maneuvered for a hermeneutic of rupture (intentionally or not, it doesn't matter) and Archbishop Lefebvre reacted against it and took the wrong steps in the process.

Moreover, our reforms, our purgations, of our own interior lives affects the Church. St. Catherine of Siena would not have been nearly as effective in her attempts to persuade the Roman Pontiff to return the Papacy to Avignon had she not been on a tremendous path to holiness, I think.

Perhaps taking away red hats from certain curial positions is just a window-dressing if the same old group of insiders controls the Curia. However, I'm convinced that we Catholics need to understand that a Prefect or Secretary's authoritative documents are just as authoritative and binding whether they have miters, red hats, or both. It is interesting to see that Archbishop Müller is being named to the College when he was not named by Pope Benedict.

Curial bishops create a huge problem in the theology of holy orders. The bishop is the head of the local church, the college of presbyters and deacons guiding the lay faithful, all in communion with one bishop. This can't work for bishops in the Roman Curia. A similar problem exists for auxiliary bishops and to a certain extent, bishops of non-territorial dioceses, ordinariates, and personal prelatures. Auxiliary bishops are subordinated to another bishop in the college of bishops who is not the head of the universal Church or a church in communion with the Roman Church and they have no territory or lay faithful that they explicitly shepherd. Ordinariates make sense, at least the Anglican variety, as well as Opus Dei (the Personal Prelature of the Holy Cross) for they have a college of priests incardinated in them, but not the dioceses of the military as it exists in the USA anyways. The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA does not have its own priests: they have faculties from their home dioceses.

I wonder too if retired bishops add to this mess. Retirement was rare before the Council. Mostly it was those who were tremendous theologians or ascetics (or both!) who retired. Now it's required if you reach the age of 75. On the other hand, I'd rather not see certain bishops stay in their cathedra for life.

I know the 1983 Code of Canon Law changed this requirement, since now cardinals must be bishops without the Pope's permission to remain a simple priest...but for what it's worth, even Cardinal Ottaviani was named cardinal and Pro-Secretary of the Holy Office about a decade before episcopal consecration.

The problem of auxiliary bishops and curial officials could have been solved with monsignori. Although, something tells me this isn't an absolute prohibition. The Anglican ordinariates currently have ordinaries who are "only" monsignors, and it is plausible that replacements could be chosen from among the first to cross the Tiber, from the married clergy. That would require them to be elevated to Chaplain of His Holiness. I know there are celibate clergy among these numbers, both those who swam the Tiber as clergy and those entering orders for the first time (i.e. never having served as a minister before. I know, Apostolicae curae and all.). I also doubt appointments will cease in the diplomatic service of the Holy See.

Fr. Ray Blake  has an excellent post from where I gained some of these ideas.

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