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Pope Francis remakes bishop-naming team in new image.

This morning the Vatican announced the revised membership of the influential Congregation for Bishops--that would be the body that recommends the men who run Catholic dioceses around the world. Pope Francis confirmed Cardinal Marc Ouellet as prefect of the congregation, but he removed ultraconservative Cardinal Raymond Burke--he of the substantial vestment--and Cardinal Justin Rigali, long known as a bishopmaker in the U.S. church. The pope added Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., as well as Cardinal João Braz de Aviz--a semi-papabile who has said that the crackdown on U.S. women religious caused him "much pain."

This is a big deal. And if the Vatican ever figures out how to create stable web links, I'll happily drop one into this post. Till then, here's the full announcement:

Today, the Holy Father:

- confirmed Cardinal Marc Ouellet as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops;

- appointed the following as members of the same dicastery: Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega, archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico; Cardinal Donald William Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, U.S.A.; Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, archbishop of Bogota, Colombia; Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; Archbishop Pietro Parolin, secretary of State; Archbishop Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops; Archbishop Vincent Gerard Nichols of Westminster, Great Britain; Archbishop Paolo Rabitti, emeritus of Ferrara-Comacchio, Italy; Archbishop Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Citta della Pieve, Italy; Bishop Felix Genn of Munster, Germany;

- confirmed the following as members of the same dicastery: Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Cardinal George Pell, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, Cardinal Francesco Monterisi, Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, Cardinal Jose Octavio Ruiz Arenas, and Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski.

- confirmed the Consultors of the same dicastery.

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Grant Gallicho is an associate editor of Commonweal. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



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Chicago is due to get a new archbishop soon - so this is of interest.


Big deal - I agree.

For us here in California, this can't be good news for the upwardly ambitious SF archbishop Salvatore Cordileone - rumor had it that he lusted after the red hat that came with Chicago.  

Cordileone is so very devoted to, and modeled himself after, his beloved mentor and patrone, and clerical fashion-ista and right-wing reactionary ideologue Raymond Burke - poor thing, to be pushed aside after all those years of obsequious grovelling.

Chicago: How about Archbishop Wilton Gregory? A native of the great city.

Margaret - he'd be a great choice.  He was an auxiliary bishop here for a number of years already.  


I hope Albany gets a good bishop. I''ve always admired Bishop Hubbard from afar; he seems very pastoral.

I realize that this is a silly question, but I'll ask it anyway.  In light of Francis' expressed interest in giving women meaningful positions (non cardinalate, of course!) in the church, could not there be a woman member of dicasteries such as this?  Is it cast in stone somewhere that members of commissions that recommend the appointment of bishops all be ordained males over the age of 60?

As someone who spends time in Maine, I hope that the diocese of Portland gets a good pastoral leader who can undo some of the damage done by Bishop Malone, who really is a good man and should have known better. 

The removal of Crdinals Rigali and Burke is wonderful, but I imagine theri influence will yet be felt in other ways. Magna cappa, anyone? 

Yes, those removals are splendid news.  But what about the other members of that dicastery who are being retained?  They include Pell and Levada, both highly conservative.  And some of the others (I don't know anything about them) might also be extremely conservative.  Hmm.  Maybe the news isn't all that good.

One other question:  why are there so very many members of the dicastery?  Its sheer size would seem to promise inefficiency.

It is an understatement to call this a big deal. Francis is working on denting the Empire and replacing it with the Gospel. Angelo Roncalli paved the way. 

Bill Mazella,

There is a reason he was referred to by my parents and their friends as "Good Pope John."  Almost as if it were part of his official title.  I think we may not be far from bringing that name out of mothballs.  Good pope Francis had a nice ring, no?

Jim P - good ole Bobbie Barron is lusting after George's seat.  And, of course, any of the other IL bishops think they deserve it - Paprocki, Braxton, Jenky. 

Yep, the process is beginning.

Was in Rome in October and visited the Basilica of Mary Major  - given the size of that apartment, it has room for Burke and Law together.

And in the same interview he squashes the idea of women cardinals.

Mr. deHaas,

You seem to have been gifted with insight into Father Barron's heart. May I suggest that we might profit from Pope Francis' insight in Evangelii Gaudium:

"98. How many wars take place within the people of God and in our different communities! In our neighbourhoods and in the workplace, how many wars are caused by envy and jealousy, even among Christians! Spiritual worldliness leads some Christians to war with other Christians who stand in the way of their quest for power, prestige, pleasure and economic security. Some are even no longer content to live as part of the greater Church community but stoke a spirit of exclusivity, creating an “inner circle”. Instead of belonging to the whole Church in all its rich variety, they belong to this or that group which thinks itself different or special."


Ms. Steifels and Dcn. Pauwels,

Could you be referring to the same Wilton Gregory, who as President of the USCCB in 2002 declared ceremoniously at the annual meeting in Dallas, of all places, that the sex abuse scandal was behind them? Do you still want this careerist to be Archbishop of Chicago?

The most charitable explanation of Bishop Burke's fashion sense is that the vestments existed long before he had occasion to wear them, and he wasn't going to let them hang in the closet unused.  Understand, I don't know if that's true, but even if it is...

Wretched excess much?  His cape must be longer than the train on Princess Diana's wedding gown.


Anybody who dresses up like Cardinal Burke can't see the difference between Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday.  His judgment is not to be trusted.

I was intrigued by the only bishop on the list of appointees, Bishop Felix Genn.  In the hope of uncovering what may have brought him to Pope Francis's attention, I googled him.  There is not much in English.  He is most noted on the English-language internets for following that  well-known gospel mandate, "If someone strikes you with a broomstick, whack him back with a thurible."

There is also something on a very conservative Catholic blog complaining that he is overly repentant about clergy abuse.

Hoping the latter aspect of his character is what Francis is looking for.  Maybe it’s a combo – Francis is looking for?  Someone who will swing a swift and forceful thurible at churchmen* who fail in their sacred duty to protect children.

*Deliberately using non-inclusive language since women have so little authority in the church and bear next to no responsibility for the abuse crisis


When are the bishops going to decide to stop wearing mitres and all the rest of it?

Why can't ordained men dress like normal people?   

What is the purpose of the wardrobes, the vestments, the jewelry?  

"OVERLY REPENTANT about clergy abuse?"  My jaw just dropped to about the South Pole.

And people who profess to be Catholic wonder why fellow Catholics have left the Church over the abuse scandals.


My brother and I have long joked about becoming Pope,(long story how it started) though as married fathers of 2 and 3 it seems unlikely.  We both agreed that upon appointment we would immediately replace mitres with baseball caps.  Not out of any sense of wardrobe modernization, but because we figure we'd probably get smacked for blocking the view of people behind us in our new summer Vatican to be established in the Fenway Park Bleachers.  My brother has suggested that as Pope he might move to box seats, but I, Francis-like, intend to stay in center field with the real fans.


Surely the only thing more ridiculous than a capa magna is a grown man in a ball cap. Plus the theurgic utility of the mitre must be greater.


Agree that mitres, like big masks, etc., are theurgic.  Taking them off would be like ripping the curtain from the Wizard of Oz.  For a magician to give up his top hat is tough/impossible.  You can't pull a rabbit out of a baseball cap.

(Interesting story on front page NYT this morning about the auction of Hopi artifacts: )

I think that ritualization, which includes garments, is essential to religion, and so I was not being dismissive of them. Now, with respect to the non-cultic dimensions of the garments, that is more complicated.

Agree that the robes, masks, hats, aspergilla, etc., etc. are essential.  Marching/dancing/processing, too.  Chanting.  Darkness/fire.  Etc.

Strip it all away and the powerful become ordinary.  Reduced to the lowity.

Yes,  when ritual objects have distinctive religious meaning theycan be extremely valuable, even necessary.  But when an object, e.g., the cappa magna, is perceived as outlandish it becomes severly distracting and defeats its own purpose.  

Another great choice for Chicago would be Bishop George Murry, S.J. of Youngstown. He is also former Auxialry in Chicago. And surely, Pope Francis should be cognizant that the Jesuits need to fill his now-vacant seat in the College of Cardinals!!!

Do Cardinals move around? I think Cardinal Dolan would be a terrific choice for Chicago; plus he's from the MIdwest originally. 

Fr. Imbelli - you, again, seem to be gifted with insight into Mr. deHaas's heart.  Sorry, it works both ways and your condescension is not appreciated. 

You just might have to realize that Fr. Barron may be known by many of us (just not you) and that our experiences of him may be very different...and thus, our comments and opinions may be different.

I could also post numerous quotes from Francis and apply those to clerics such as Barron.

Please preach to someone else - your students?


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