Father Z gives us the latest bad news from Rome:
Now that the cat is out of the bag, I’ll post this. I do not like the fact that Sandro Magister posted in this way, however. I’ve been biting the inside of my mouth for a while now. The optimist in me was saying that the official announcement would not be made until after the Synod of Bishops, or at least the beginning of the Synod. Or at all.
It’s not good news. At the time of this writing, it is still – officially – a rumor. I believe it, however. I have been trying to get myself into a mental and spiritual place to see it for what it is and, more importantly, for what it is not, and to plot my own reaction and subsequent course.
Vatican Insider has posted that His Eminence Raymond Card. Burke will soon be demoted by Pope Francis from being Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura to the Patron of the Knights of Malta.
The move is not lateral. That position is usually entrusted to older Cardinals. The present Cardinal Patron is Card. Sardi, who is now 80. Before him was Pio Card. Laghi. The reassignment would be a demotion, for the Patron of the Knights is not nearly the equivalent of Prefect of a Roman dicastery.
I didn’t think that Card. Burke would be moved to Chicago, though I had a little fun with that idea. I thought he might be moved laterally to the Congregation for Causes of Saints to replace Card. Amato, who is over 75. More on Saints, below.
There are a few points to make here, before the trads blow arteries and quite simply die and before liberals and dissidents, who suffer from Burke Derangement Syndrome, start their Lord of the Flies Dance.
First, it is possible that the three Roman tribunals (Penitentiary, Signatura, Rota), might be collapsed into a single dicastery for justice. I don’t know how that would work. I think it would be a really bad idea, but they didn’t ask me. If that is the case, the Signatura and the Penitentiary will not both need a Cardinal.
Second, according to a couple sources I have heard from, there is talk of collapsing the Congregation for Causes of Saints back into Divine Worship where, historically, it once belonged. Once upon a time the powerful Sacred Congregation of Rites had the brief for beatification and canonization. That would eliminate another cardinalatial chair in the Curia.
Furthermore, there is talk of collapsing minor curial offices, Councils and the like, into a Congregation for Laity. That could eliminate several other Cardinals in the Curia.
If you eliminate a position that has required a Cardinal, and that Cardinal is not 75 or 80, that is, ready for retirement, the Pope has to do something with him. Burke is only 66. What can the Pope do if there are no longer enough cardinalatial slots in the curia because he plans on eliminating them? Well, you can send His Eminence off to be the bishop of some important see in his own country, right? What if the Pope can’t do that because the Cardinal’s own countrymen have been drenching the same Cardinal in contumely? Not enough curial chairs, not a good option back home? Don’t forget that the Archbishop Secretaries of eliminated offices have to go somewhere too! They might need those dioceses back in their native places.
So, what? You put the Cardinal in the best possible cardinalatial role you can find. Some Cardinals who hit 75 and are at the end of service in a Congregation, are still useful. They reside in Rome. They can be on other Congregations until they are 80. They could head up some office such as, once upon a time, the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”. That’s been put under the CDF. There are still, for example, Archpriests at the Major Basilicas. But, there’s already an American at St. Paul’s outside-the-walls: Card. Harvey, 64, also from Wisconsin, just like Card. Burke. Two American sexagenarian Cardinals from Wisconsin as Archpriests of Papal Basilicas at the same time? Not likely. I suspect that if Francis eliminates a few offices, such as Cor Unum or Justice and Peace or the like which have men who are still of service age, one of them will go, say, to be Archpriest at St. Mary Major, where the present man, Card. Abril y Castelló, is about to turn 79. An Italian could wind up as the Delegate for the Basilica of St. Francis where Card. Nicora, 77, is now.
It is fair to imagine that Pope Francis – certainly at the instigation of a few close advisers – is purging the Curia of his predecessor’s influence.
Go here to read the rest. A firm committment to orthodox Catholic teaching may not be a detriment to a Cardinal in the current pontificate, but it is certainly not a guarantee of preferment in assignments apparently. It apparently did not help that Cardinal Burke contributed an essay to a volume in defense of the teaching of the Church on marriage. Pope Francis apparently was not amused. Go here to read all about it.