PopeWatch: Bishop Enrico dal Covolo

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PopeWatch agrees with Pope Francis regarding careerism which is not infrequently a blight among clergy as they increase in rank within the Church.  A good example of such careerism is Bishop Enrico dal Covolo.  Father Z gives us the details:

I was sent a link to a video with some of an interview by Bishop Enrico dal Covolo, who is presently rector of my old school, the Pontifical Lateran University.  dal Covolo, an SDB (aka Socio di Bertone aka Salesian) has done some work on the Fathers of the Church.

In any event, before last Christmas dal Covolo went to Guam to visit one of the many global spin offs of the aforementioned Lateran.  Inter alia, in the interview (btw the newsie calls him “dal Covólo.  Fail.  It’s “dal Cóvolo”) he made some comments about the differences between Pope Francis and Pope Benedict.

The video includes and English translation voice-over, so I can’t hear the actual Italian original, but:

“I believe that the… Pope Francis is a figure of discontinuity with the previous …ahhh pontificate, but a very very good discontinuity because he’s pushing the Church, he’s exorcising the Church from all its fears that he had in the past. … I agree totally with these changes that Pope Francis is doing because they correspond precisely to the challenges that we face today.”

Et tu, Brute?

You don’t use a word like “discontinuity” in this way unless you intend to dump on Benedict.

The irony in this is that were you to check the word “clericalism” in an illustrated dictionary, dal Covolo’s picture would grace the entry.

Benedict XVI raised dal Covolo up with his own hand to the episcopate and rectorate of the Lateran.  Also, I suspect that dal Covolo – a patrologist more than a patristicist – was one of the ghost writers behind Benedict’s Wednesday General Audience address in his series on the Fathers of the Church.   Benedict treated dal Covolo very well indeed.

Go here to read the rest.  In any large organization there are quite a few people who have a firm guiding principle: to be in favor of whatever the boss wants and to oppose whatever he doesn’t like.  That can make for some quick changes along the way, as bosses come and go. but, after all, what a small thing it is to look at oneself straight in the mirror in the morning compared to being successful in one’s career.

More to explorer


  1. Maybe I’m not smart enough or perhaps I haven’t stared down careerism to fully understand what the Holy Father is driving at. What exactly is careerism?

    On the other hand, I have faced clericalism and still do from time to time. Sometimes I wonder if in our efforts to support our priests that we’re not pumping up their egos too much. It’s a delicate balance isn’t it?

  2. I imagine that careerism when applied to the priesthood means a cleric who places more importance on his advancement through the hierarchy (priest to pastor to bishop to cardinal) than on performing his priestly duties.

  3. Or, in a similar vein, once he gets to a position he likes (rector, teaching post or whatnot) he focuses more on maintaining that post rather than doing what may be in the best interests of the people/organization he serves.

  4. Pope Leo X hated making appointments.

    “I never make one,” said he, “without creating nine malcontents and one ingrate.”

  5. Careerism has more to deal with the clergy being part of this world and what it has to offer instead of doing what they should be doing, like tending to the flock as good shepherds.

    I think it was in the early 80’s when Pope John Paul II went to South America and upon arrival there was a priest who was part of the government, came out to greet him at the airport. I don’t know if you guys remember seeing this, but he scolded that priest for careerism right there in front of all those people and on television for joining the government instead of tending to his flock.

    Careerism deals more with clergy hob nobbing with elitist and becoming more of a poster child for their political agendas than actually fulfilling their vocation as being shepherds of the flock, being more of a hireling than a shepherd. He shouldn’t be trying to stop the bottom from fighting the good fight but revitalize that fight in the bishops and cardinals than anything else. Be a good father to his sons and scold them when they are out of line just a JPII did at the airport.

  6. “I never make one,” said he, “without creating nine malcontents and one ingrate.”

    Having been in a position of authority over staff people I know what he means.
    A mother or father could feel the same way recognizing the various strengths of children within their families. Somehow my own dad, now gone from us 43 years, made each of the six of us feel favored! Each of us didn’t really know that each other one felt specially favored til after his death.

  7. The Bishop’s comment that Pope Francis’ ministry is in discontinuity with/from Pope Benedict is a swipe at Pope Benedict, however, if the twit thought things through he would recognize heis not making things any easier etc for Pope Francis. Of course Pope Francis is different from Pope Benedict; Benedict was from JPII and certainly JPII was different from Paul VI, but discontinuity? No I don’t buy it.

    If I may offer one way of seeing our most recent popes: there are three transcendentals: ways in which God reveals Himself and which also can become the way to God [always through Christ and the Church]. The transcendentals are: the true, the beautiful and the good. I would offer this ‘analogy’:

    Pope Blessed John Paul II’s charism/emphasis was on “the True”

    Pope Benedict’s charism/emphasis was on “The Beautiful”

    Pope Francis’ charism/emphasis (seems to be [it is still early]): “The Good”

    Certainly Blessed John Paul cared about etc., the good and the beautiful but his emphasis was on “the True’. The same can be said of Pope Benedict and Francis.

    I offer these as only a means of ‘seeing’ the richness of each of the popes as well as all three of them.

  8. David Wood,

    Pope John Paul II went to Nicaragua in 1984, after the Sandinistas had seized power. There was a Catholic priest who was working for the Sandinista government. JPII met him in a receiving line and publicly admonished the priest for serving as a bureaucrat for the Ortega dictatorship.

    Today, Pope Francis named a number of new cardinals, of which most are from Third World countries. The AP story I read is that he did so in order for the church to pay more attention to the poor.

    We will continue to hear most about the poor of the world from this pontificate. There will continue to be backhanded slaps at capitalism and traditional Catholicism.

    Pope Francis is likely unaware of the trillions of dollars spent by the US Government in various anti poverty programs since the Great Society in this country alone and just as likely unaware that they have not solved the problem of poverty. If he was aware, I doubt he would care.

    During this pontificate, we will hear almost exclusively from Pope Francis about the poor of the world. I do not make light of the terrible poverty that so many face every day. My wife taught English lessons in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Cali, Colombia. The mother of one of her students made a chicken dinner and invited my wife. She did not know that they kept that chicken for eggs and had no money to buy another chicken. What annoys me is that most poor people are the victims of corrupt governments who squander foreign aid and treat their own citizens like garbage while favoring themselves in power and their cronies.

    On the aspects of proper liturgical worship and the deep spiritual poverty of the Western World, we will hear almost nothing and this inaction will be taken by the likes of the National Schismatic Fishwrap (kudos to the great Fr. Z) and their fellow travelers as an endorsement of their worldview.

  9. Penguins Fan,

    You may not be aware that Blessed Pope John Paul publicly admonished the priest because he was remaining in public (political) office despite the fact he was told by his superiors to step down in accordance with (at that time the new) Code of Canon Law. Any priest at the time in public office needed to step down, and no priest from that time forward could enter into public office.

  10. It is shocking the way in which, with carelessness, you have treated a person that you do not even know. However, what has the Bishop dal Covolo really said on the island of Guam?
    First video, minute 6.53

    “Pope Francis wants to bring people back on the right scale of values, as Pope Benedict had done in His great teaching”.
    Second video, minute 1.32
    Firstly, it is important to clarify some things:
    1) The translator says: “Previous Pontificates” and not “Previous Pontificate”, thus the Bishop is talking about the earlier Popes. I do not know whether or not it is grammatically correct, but it is clear that the interpreter, who is certainly not a native English speaker, is aiming on purpose for this incorrect translation.
    2) Moreover, it is very difficult to understand what the Bishop has really said since at the moment of the interview the translator does not interpret correctly what dal Covolo is actually saying.
    3) If we suppose that the Bishop dal Covolo has actually used the word “Discontinuità”, it is clear that he is speaking of a diversity of personality, style and speech.
    Finally, it is appalling the way in which you have judged a person by only using a very short and not entirely clear interview.

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