Rorate Caeli

Pope names former adversary in Argentine episcopate to head office that does not yet exist

From the Monday bollettino:

Vatican City, 19 May 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has - appointed Metropolitan Archbishop Jose Luis Mollaghan of Rosario, Argentina as member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with responsibility for the Commission for the examination of appeals by clergy accused of “delicta graviora”, to be established.

Sandro Magister quite understandably interprets this as a removal - from Archbishop of a large diocese of over 2 million faithful to head of a (non-cardinalatial) office within the CDF that does not even exist yet. The 68-year-old Mollaghan was one of those named by Pope Benedict XVI against the line espoused by the Bergoglio side of the Conference - and actually from outside the "terna" prepared in Argentina.

Rorate reported this at the time, when, during the first half of his pontificate, Benedict XVI appeared strongest (2006):

The general system for the appointment of bishops in the past 40 years has included some negotiations between the local episcopal conference and the local nuncio -- who then sends a list of three names to the Pope, through the Congregation for Bishops.

The Italian press reports today some very interesting news. In his recent audience with the Pope, Cardinal Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires (and, according to some reports, runner-up in the last conclave) mentioned the fact that two of the most prominent recent episcopal nominations in Argentina, the Archbishops of Rosario and Resistencia, were men whose names had not been included in the lists sent by the nuncio. It is not completely clear if he complained to the pope about the practice, but it seems so, since the report mentions the "concern of the Argentinian episcopate"

It is excellent news that the Pope has chosen to eventually choose names from outside the usual "progressive" careerists handpicked by the local nuncios and conferences of bishops.

And most importantly:

The largest Argentinian newspaper, Clarín, has several interesting news on the crisis between the Holy See and the "ultra-progressive" Argentinian Conference of Bishops on the nomination, by the Holy Father, of so-called "conservative" bishops to the Archdioceses of Rosario and Resistencia, whose names had not been included in the ternas (the lists of three names sent by the local nuncio, in agreement with the local episcopal conference, to the Pope through the Congregation for Bishops) .

Some excerpts of the three articles published today show the amazing insolence of the local bishops. Fortunately, the Holy Father has shown even greater determination in this showdown with the Argentinian Episcopate by naming another "conservative" bishop to the Diocese of Zárate-Campana, while Cardinal Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires and President of the Episcopal Conference, is in Rome to voice these pathetic "concerns" of his colleagues.

From the first article:
"The most serious case is that of conservative bishop José Luiz Mollaghan, named new archbishop of Rosario, of the most important sees of Argentina. Most Argentinian bishops had preferred bishop Agustín Radrizzani, who had also been elected vice-president of the Argentinian episcopal conference, in a clear sign to Rome."

"The other case is that of bishop Fabriciano Sigampa, new bishop of Resistencia, also seen as 'very conservative'."
From the second article:
"The last nominations of bishops in the Argentinian Church have not reflected the majoritarian preferences of the Argentinian episcopate. ... Finally, the bishopric of Santiago del Estero is also vacant, since its titular bishop, Juan Carlos Maccarone, resigned in August, after being involved in a sex scandal. It is said that the only recent nomination which has reflected the wishes of the leadership of the episcopate was that of Jorge Lozano -- up to December an immediate collaborator of Cardinal Bergoglio -- to Gualeuguaychú. Even so, his nomination was not the product of a rapid process, but [of a] labor-intensive one."

Do you all remember who Maccarone was? He was the bishop who was forced to resign last August [Aug. 2005] because of a video portraying his sexual acts with a young man -- a resignation which the pope immediately accepted (of course), as he was on his way to the World Youth Day in Germany. And the Argentinian bishops want the Pope to accept their choices?

The third article explains that the conference of bishops wishes to minimize the clear battle between the Roman Curia and the national episcopate. Well, too late for that, now.

(Just to clarify the information published in the Italian press, as reported here, the Argentinian articles make clear that the Pope has actually not granted the audience requested by Cardinal Bergoglio to voice his concerns -- at least not until now.)

Well, things have certainly changed. But maybe it is just a fortunate coincidence, and the Pope really wanted to charge Mollaghan with judging the delicate delicta graviora, which are truly at the heart of the crisis of credibility faced by the Church since the late 20th century, in the office that still does not really exist. Of the conservative bishops named against the wishes of then-Cardinal Bergoglio, Magister recalls that Sigampa is already retired, Mollaghan is now named to this non-cardinalatial subordinate post, and the only one remaining is the now completely isolated archbishop of La Plata, Héctor Aguer.