The second outcome of the Vatileaks case may have come in the classical Vatican formula promoveatur ut amoveatur (promote to remove). James Michael Harvey, Prefect of the Pontifical Household, is to be created cardinal in a surprise consistory announced by Benedict XVI. The consistory will take place November, 24, and will create just six new cardinals. After announcing the consistory, the Pope also announced in the general audience of October 24 that he planned «to appoint James Michael Harvey Archpriest of the Saint Paul Outside the Walls Basilica.» The red berretta to Harvey precedes his official appointment to a new post. That this was a surprise is evident by the fact that Cardinal Francesco Monterisi –still Saint Paul Outside the Wall’s Archpriest– was appointed a member of the Congregation of Bishops shortly after the announcement of his in pectore successor. So Monterisi himself had very short advance notice.
James Michael Harvey, 63, leaves the post of Prefect of the Pontifical Household. Some say that Benedict XVI’s «head of household» had to leave because of health problems, and that Harvey himself asked for a less challenging post. Saint Paul Outside the Walls Basilica is indeed a tranquil post, prestigious but peripheral. There, Harvey will be able to organize special events away from the fray. But this is far from being a reward for Harvey. In a moment of deep breaches within the Curia, it is important that the people closest to the Pope stay close. Possibly, the surprising Papal decision was influenced by Harvey’s role in hiring Paolo Gabriele, the unfaithful butler.
Much have been said about a possible Papal pardon for Paolo Gabriele, the butler found guilty of stealing and leaking personal Papal documents. In fact, the press release that announced the verdict also stated that, for a Papal pardon, there is a need forthe unfaithful butler to express regret for what he did and to apologize to those who suffered from his actions. This has not happened. And the Pope is yet to meet him. Perhaps, the Pope is waiting for the trial of Claudio Sciarpelletti, the Vatican Secretariat of State Specialist tried for abetting Gabriele’s crimes. Paolo Gabriele will be called to the witness stand. He will speak after being sworn in (he was not sworn in when he was the accused party). Will his statements change?
There is no doubt that Paolo Gabriele wants to speak with the Pope. He has repeatedly said that he would tell the Pope –and no one else- the real reasons why he did what he did. He mentions cardinals, talks about others, perhaps in an attempt to draw attention on himself. Benedict XVI probably wants to see how the situation evolves, and then eventually pardon Paolo Gabriele.
How is the Vatican world moving these days? After a scandal – like Vatileaks – every decision carries with it a special weight. The impression we get is of a Pope who is inexorably taking the lead through curia and College of Cardinals appointments. Benedict XVI is surgically accelerating his cleaning up of the Church.
Announcing a consistory is significant. The first name on the list of new cardinals is Harvey’s. He is the one drawn from the curia. The other five new cardinals all come from out of Europe, and none of them is Italian. Was this a Papal move to balance a «too Italian» and «too much on Bertone’s side» curia? This theory lacks merit: the number of Italian cardinals has not decreased, and the new cardinals are all diocesan bishops. If there had been some new appointment drawn from the curia, it could have been read as a re-balancing of Bertone’s power. In this particular case, Benedict XVI and Bertone have merely «completed» the last consistory of February 2012 by creating five new cardinals that were already expected to get the red hat back in January. This lent the opportunity to move (up and out) James Michael Harvey, vacating the post of Prefect of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household.
Harvey is the last representative of John Paul II’s old guard at the Pontifical Household. Ordained bishop with Piero Marini (then Vatican master of ceremonies) and Stanislaw Dziwisz (then John Paul II’s secretary, now cardinal and archbishop of Cracow), Harvey knew Paolo Gabriele since he was Assessor at the Secretariat of State and the butler was a floor-cleaner in the Apostolic Palace. Harvey signed off on the hiring of the unfaithful butler. His opinion was decisive in hiring Paolo Gabriele, following Dziwisz’s very good references. Dziwisz was the first to set the stage for the hiring of Paolo Gabriele for the Papal service. Was it a naïve choice, or was it intended to place a confidant close to the Pope?
None of these two hypothesis can be proven. After the butler’s arrest, Harvey breathed a rarefied atmosphere. Vatican sources say that he was not seen much. He silently exits the scene, while Paolo Gabriele speaks out loudly at his trial. Paolo Gabriele is not repentant, and his sentence is so weak that he is not even disqualified from ever again holding public office, according to the «partial and perpetual» disqualification formula which the Vatican Promotor of Justice Picardi made up. In fact, now that the judgment has come into effect, Paolo Gabriele will be removed from office and from any other Vatican office, according to Vatican procedures and to General Roman Curia Regulation art. 79. This is more than what Picardi had asked for.
In fact, it is the end of Paolo Gabriele’s trial that allows us to discern the panorama. Georg Gaenswein, Benedict XVI’spersonal secretary, comes out worst. Gaenswein does not have a defined portfolio within the Pontifical Household. He is not a bishop, so his views are often not taken into account. But he is a strong, precise man, and he wants rules to be respected. He attracts the animosity of many. Benedict XVI has understood this, and has confirmed his full confidenceon his collaborator. Now, he could also appoint Gaenswein to Harvey’s post, no matter if as bishop or not. Things are going to change in the Pontifical Household, one way or another. When Leonardo Sapienza, after a long time of service to the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, was appointed Regent of the Household, he was not ordained bishop. Even when Sapienza was in fact working as a Prefect. Now, it may be that Sapienza will be ordained a bishop, and as regent will absorb some of the Prefect’s responsibilities. If Gaenswein becomes Prefect, he would enjoy more decision making power, and could better manage the Pontifical Apartment.
This is perhaps the most logical solution. Having to find a way to let Harvey go, the Pope probably considered that the second consistory he decided to hold this year – the fifth of Benedict XVI’s pontificate – was a good occasion. More than a «new consistory», this is last consistory’s «part II». If it were a proper consistory, the list of new cardinals would start with Gehrard Ludwig Mueller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who is entitled to the berretta rossa ex officio, as stated in Pastor Bonus. Benedict XVI himself explained the reasons of this Consistory speaking at the final working day of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization. «With this little Consistory – the Pope said – I wanted to complete the Consistory of February, in the context of the new evangelization, with a gesture of the universality of the Church, showing that the Church is the Church of all peoples, she speaks in all languages, she is always a Church of Pentecost; not the Church of one continent, but a universal Church. This was precisely my intention, to express this in this context, this universality of the Church, which is also the beautiful expression of this Synod. For me it was really uplifting, comforting and encouraging to see here a reflection of the universal Church with its suffering, threats, dangers and joys, experiences of the Lord’s presence, even in difficult situations.»
Let’s now turn to take a look at the five new cardinals.
Bechara Boutros Rai is the Maronite Patriarch of Antiochia. Born in 1940, he studied at the Lateran University in Rome. Patriarch BecharaRai is a solid and constant reference point for the Lebanese Christian community. He perfectly managed Benedict XVI’s trip to Lebanon. His frequent statements on behalf of the Christian community in the Middle East have earned him the esteem of many, also within the Vatican Walls. Making the Maronite Patriarch a cardinal is also good for bringing the Churches closer together.
In addition to the siro-malabarian Georges Alencherry, who made the cut for the berretta rossa in the January consistory, the Indian Church gains Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal as its newest cardinal. Thottunkal, from the siro-malankarian rite, is the Major Archbishop of Trivandrum, India’s oldest Christian Community. The Pope’s choice shows the increasing importance attached to India and to its Christian rites, which merit recognition within a sometimes confusing faith landscape. A landscape that is also challenging from a faith doctrine perspective .
By giving the berretta rossato two heads of Eastern Churches in communion with Rome (Bechara Rai and Thottunkal), Benedict XVI has consolidated a tradition begun with John XXIII and then continued by Paul VI and John Paul II. Many theologians argue that it is not coherent to give the title of cardinal – i.e. member of the Roman clergy and so elector of the Pope, who is the bishop of Rome – to a Patriarch who already holds a higher office, one that is similar to the Pope’s, and who represents a tradition different from the Latin. These are valid considerations that are however trumped by the need to strengthen the universality of the Church.
John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria, will be created cardinal as well. In 2009, he was chosen to be the rapporteur for Africa at the Bishops’ Synod on the Word of God. He enthusiastically hailed the final message of the synod, underlining it contained «a lot of Africa and a lot of hope». During those days, the synod’s attention drew on him alsoon account of the difficult situation of Christians in Nigeria, victims of attacks almost weekly. Onayekan made it a point to underline that «there is no war of religions» in Nigeria and asked Christians to «respond to violence with peace». The red hat for him is also a sign of solidarity with the Nigerian suffering Church.
Rubén Salazar Gòmez, archbishop of Bogotà, Colombia, is also facing difficult challenges. Born in 1942, Salazar has beena parish priest, a teacher at the Seminar, a director of the Social Pastoral Department of the Colombian Bishops’ Conference and Vicar for the Pastoral. In his career as a bishop (before Bogotà, he was bishop of Cucuta and Barranquilla), he stood out for his call for the release of hostages held by drug traffickers, and for his work in conjunction with the International Red Cross in Colombia. His appointment as a cardinal also has a geo-political significance: Colombia does not have any voting cardinals, while they had three Colombian cardinals in the last conclave.
Finally, Luis Antonio Tagle, 54, archbishop of Manila, will also be created cardinal in the next consistory. He was expected to be created cardinal in the January consistory. When this did not happen, some critics attributed it to Tagle being part of the Giuseppe Alberigo and Alberto Melloni team thatwrotea history of the Second Vatican Council. The so called «school of Bologna» reading of the Council as a breach in Church history stands in contrast to Benedict XVI’s hermeneutic of reform. Tagle’sperspective has not led to Pope to change his trust on him. In fact, Tagle has beenassigned important responsibilities during this pontificate. This shows the confidence that Benedict XVI has for Tagle.
With the next consistory (the fifth held by Benedict XVI), the Pope will reach the sum of 90 new cardinals created. As of November 24, the College of Cardinals will be made up of 211 cardinals. Of those, 120 are voting members,while the other 91 are over 80 and cannot be in a conclave. Thus, of the 120 electors/cardinals, almost 2 thirds have been created by Benedict XVI. Despite internal and external attacks, Benedict XVI may achieve something John Paul II did not: to have his successor elected from one of the cardinals he created (Ratzinger was created cardinal by Paul VI).
Benedict XVI has had a hand even in managing the curia. And it is perhaps as a result of his uncompromising actions that the first attacks against the consistory in January were carried out. Some called the consistory appointments «too Italian» and «leaning towards Bertone.» Then, on Friday morning, some have interpreted the creation of these six new cardinals as a warning for Bertone. But this explanation is far from logical. Obviously, in making selections, one choses trusted people, maybe even friends. Neither the Pope nor Bertone are free of this proclivity. In putting things in order – as the Pope is doing – it is important to have faithful allies.
Meanwhile, we await the November 5th trial. Claudio Sciarpelletti, computer specialist at the Secretariat of State, will be tried for abetting a crime. Among the witnesses, there should be one Msgr. Carlo Maria Polvani, head of the information office in the Secretariat of State. Polvani is Msgr. Carlo Maria Viganò’s nephew. Viganò’s protest of his move to Washington to become apostolic nuncio (in important letters about «corruption» in the Vatican that he, Viganò, claimed was being prevented from tackling) kicked off Vatileaks. Viganò had already had the opportunity tospeak at length with Benedict XVI. And on Wednesday, October 24, at the general audience, he had been seen kissing the hands of Benedict XVI and taking advantage of thisopportunity to speak with the Pope. Has Viganò come to Italy to defend his nephew?