When he was appointed as Papal nuncio in Israel, he had a Muslim barber. For years, this barber asked about Abouna Boutros, Father Pietro. This is how Pietro Sambi was known in Jerusalem. Since 2005, Sambi was Papal nuncio in Washington, and this year he was ready to be nominated Prefect of the Prefecture for the Economical Affairs in the Roman Curia. The appointment had been already signed, but he had a cancer, and he had been operated. The appointment had to be made official after his recovering. His death – actually unexpected – moved the goalpost. Until now, just one of the previewed new appointment has been done: the successor of monsignor Pietro Sambi as Papal nuncio in Us. The new nuncio in Washington is mons. Carlo Maria Viganò, until now secretary of the Vatican governorship. The new puzzle of the Roman Curia begins from his appointment.
Carlo Maria Viganò did not want to go to Washington. He would have preferred going to take the Vatican governorship, or at least – but he seems to have refused this appointment, as well – to become the number one of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs. The governor of Vatican State is now card. Giovanni Lajolo, that has already passed the age limit. His predecessor was the cardinal Edmund Szoka, and Viganò also runned for Szoka’s succession. His sponsors were the cardinal Angelo Sodano, former Secretary of State, and to cardinal Attilio Nicora, now president of the Vatican Authority for the Financial Information. Both if he had become governor of the Vatican State or Prefect for Economical affairs, Viganò would have strengthen the link with his two sponsors. Particularly, as a Prefect he could lend a hand to his friend Nicora in controlling the Vatican finances, and to Sodano as well, that has still great interest in the I.O.R. (the Institute for Religious Works), the Vatican “bank”. But he strongly wanted the governorship – it was his first option, and many in the Curia believe that this was an ispired manoeuvring. There had been an exchange of letters between Viganò and the State Secretariat, and the correspondence was leaked to the press. What it was still not leaked is that a group of cardinals and prelate wrote a personal letter to the Pope to ask to let Viganò remain in Rome.
The Pope had been really bothered from these pressures, and he decided to send Viganò to Washington. And Sambi had been chosen as Prefect for the Economical Affair.
Until now, the Prefect has been the card. Velasio de Paolis, that now his managing the complicated case of the Legionaries of Christ. The role of the Prefect is even more important in the light of the commitment for Vatican financial transparence brought on by Benedict XVI. The Authority for Financial information controls all the financial operations of the Vatican State. On the other hand, the Prefecture of the Economic Affair is also charged of functions of control and vigilance. So, the new prefect should be – Vatican sources explain – an «authoritative prelate, preferably not tied to the former Vatican management». This is one of the reasons why Viganò had been soon excluded from the first rose of names. After Sambi’s death, there is now a restrict rose of names running for the succession of Velasio de Paolis: Claudio Maria Celli, until now president of the Pontifical Council of the Social Communication, and mons. Giuseppe Sciacca, auditor in the Rota Tribunal. This latter also runs for Viganò’s succession as number two of the Vatican governorship.
But there are other pieces of the Curial puzzle to place. First, the new governor of the Vatican City State. Card. Lajolo will retire, and his successor will almost surely be mons. Giuseppe Bertello. Bertello is the nuncio in Italy, and he has been long time waiting for a promotion. The new Papal nuncio for Italy will be Lorenzo Baldisseri, until now appointed as nuncio in Brazil.
There are other news regarding the nunciature in Italy: the Spanish monsignor Luis Miguel Munoz Cardaba is leaving is charge in Italy, heading to Australia, and will be replaced by the Italian Luca Lorusso. The delegation of the Holy See in Italy will be again the only one staffed exclusively by «autocthonos» Churchmen, and this is peculiar, since – in fact – Italian questions are discussed in the Second Section of the Secretariat of State, and not in a special section, as many believe.
Soon there will be a new arrival in the Second Section of the Secretariat of State: Monsignor Andrea Ferrante, who before entering into Vatican diplomacy, with his last post in Uganda, had been the personal secretary, in the curia, of then titular archbishop Crescenzio Sepe – who then became the cardinal prefect of “Propaganda Fide” and is now archbishop of Naples – at the time responsible for organizing the Great Jubilee of 2000.
Looking forward a new consistory (Benedict XVI will be probably appointing about ten new cardinals in the next November), all the Vatican clans – the old and the new ones – are trying to have their men in important positions. More than looking forward, it would be better looking backward. Domenico Calcagno had been recently nominated president of the Apsa, the so-called “Central Bank” of the Vatican. Calcagno substituted cardinal Attilio Nicora. The decision was made on the basis of the objective incompatibility between the role played by Cardinal as president of the APSA, and the one contextually covered as President of the Authority for Financial Information. The authority is meant to monitor the implementation of international anti-money laundering legislation in the offices of the Holy See. Nicora in fact is a controller and one of the major controlled. When appointed as Chairman of the Authority, it was determined that each time the Authority dealt with problems related to the Apsa, Cardinal Nicora would abstain.
The succession of Calcagno, a native of Genoa, was not a surprise. The new president of APSA, designed to obtain the cardinal’s hat at the next consistory, is personally known to the Secretary of State for many years, since when Bertone was Archbishop of Vercelli, and Calcagno worked in the administrative offices of the Italian Bishops’ Conference. Appointed Bishop of Savona-Noli in 2002, he was called to the Vatican four years ago. Also significant is the arrival at APSA of an and Ambrosian like Monsignor Mistò, which rumors in recent months indicated as a possible new prelate of the IOR.
Actually, Mistò is designed to be the new president of the Apsa in a few years. While monsignor Massimo Boarotto, president of the Extraordinary Section of the Apsa, will keep is marginal role in the Curia. Boarotto enjoys a universal esteem, and it is probably because of it – his career annoyed someone who had other plans – that many rumors talked about a possible closing of the Extraordinary Section of the Apsa, in the context of the “transparency operation of Vatican Finances”. The closing is not up to come, but the rumors on the closing represented a fair signal against the growing of Boarotto within the Sacred Palaces.
Looking forward, there are other two appointments to come: the successor of card. Fortunato Baldelli as Major Pentitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, and the new patriarch of Venice. The strongest candidate to be the new Major Penitentiary is mons. Francesco Coccopalmerio, now president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. The new Patriarch of Venice – after Angelo Scola’s appointment as archbishop of Milan – could be mons. Pietro Parolin, nuncio in Venezuela and formerly appointed for years as number 4 of the Secretariat of State.