Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Wind Of Change Involving Some Of My Favorite Cardinals

Cardinal Jaoa Braz de Aviz was too outspoken for curial cardinals, but he was not the source of the information appearing in Italian papers.  It does appear there are some 'storm winds' in the land of Cardinal red.

For some unknown reason I missed this article on Vatican Insider which details some of the 'inside' information amongst the cardinals before the Conclave.  It chronicles a confrontation between Cardinal Bertone and Cardinal Braz de Aviz over the Vatican Bank.  It ends with the very cogent observation of Nigeria's John Onaiyekan regarding said bank.  Braz de Aviz, Schonborn, Tagle, and Onaiyekan are still my favorite cardinals, and I have a very very strong feeling, under Pope Francis,  I will be hearing even more about these four men--and a lot less about some others.

IOR: Confrontation before the Conclave

Andrea Tornielli - Vatican Insider - March 12, 2013
A wind of change blows on the Conclave. For the management of the Curia, for Vatican finances and for a new collegiality that can also function as a deterrent from the risk of a "private-sector-like" management of the Church's assets. The last General Congregation, now on the eve of the conclave, has seen the return of the IOR, the "Vatican Bank", as a protagonist in an exchange between cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and the Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Brazilian Joao Braz de Aviz. Even a long-time curial such as cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, who in the Sistine Chapel will perform the functions of Dean, in taking the floor said that the Curia needs to be changed. While the Brazilian papable Scherer spoke in defence of the Curia.  

The push for a new evangelisation, a principal point on the agenda for the new Pontiff and a central theme in the current discussions, cannot be separated from a reform of the curial structures, from greater collegiality or from a serious assessment of whether or not to keep an Oltretevere bank alive.  (This is most definitely one of my key reforms.  End the Vatican Bank and end one source of serious corruption and manipulation of the Vatican and hence the Church)

Vatican spokesman father Federico Lombardi said that Bertone "in concise form" spoke of the "nature of the IOR" and of the "procedure for the inclusion in the international Moneyval system" against money laundering. Lombardi also acknowledged the desire of several cardinals to see more clearly in regards to recent events at the "Vatican Bank" that, as of a few days ago, has a new president.  

What happened in the meeting room then? Bertone criticised Braz de Aviz for having expressed last Saturday his dissent on the management of the IOR and more generally of the Roman Curia, and for the fact that the dissent had been made public. He suspects him of having leaked the content of his speech to the Italian press. Braz de Aviz did not let the words of the former Secretary of State fall on deaf ears.  He asked to speak again and curtly denied having leaked something to the outside. The Brazilian cardinal suspects, rather, that the information may have been filtered by the "organisation". Several cardinals, at this point, applauded. (I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if some of those clapping hands belonged to some American Cardinals who were also accused of leaks apparently coming from other sources.)

Going beyond this exchange, which in any case testifies to the freedom and frankness characterizing the discussion, there were several interventions last week during in which updates on IOR were requested. There were also questions about the still unclear circumstances of the dismissal of banker Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, which occurred a few days after he had sent a letter to Bertone making him aware of his desire to "remove his confidence" in Vatican Bank Director Paolo Cipriani and in another manager.  

Father Lombardi wanted to clarify that "the situation of the IOR is not the main criteria on the election of the Pope".  It would be misleading to think that the real or alleged scandals surrounding the management of Vatican finances have monopolized the discussion. The cardinals, even those who come from outside, even those, and there are many, who call for a decisive change of course, know they have to elect a new Pope; a spiritual man not an expert on money laundering. But the words of an African papable, Abujia Archbishop John Onaiyekan, are very eloquent when, in an interview to the Italian TV channel La7, he said: "The IOR is not essential to the Holy Father's Ministry as successor of Peter. I don't know if St. Peter had a bank. The IOR is not essential; it is not sacramental; it is not dogmatic". 

From this evening, the 115 electors of Ratzinger's successor will pray and vote to choose a man who, announcing the Gospel, can restore hope. And who has the courage to renovate the face of the Curia to prevent it from becoming a hindrance rather a help to the only true mission of the Church. 


If Pope Francis really wants to reorient the curia, he has some very decent men in his corner with the same agenda.  He has some men he can choose from who will not accept business as usual and one of my favorites is Dom Joao Braz de Aviz.  It's going to take men like Tagle, Onaiyekan, Schonborn, and Dom Joao to continue to stand up the the old guard if Pope Francis will have any hope at all to clean up the curia and deal with the ever blooming scandals.  I would love to see an American Cardinal stand beside these men, but it's hard to see where the US has a Cardinal willing to do so, unless it's O'Malley.

I can't help but have hope even knowing there will be very little or no movement on some of my pet issues, but the truth is there can be no forward movement on any issue at all unless the death grip of career curia clerics is finally broken.  A pastoral response which recognizes spiritual life is a process and that individual conscience must have priority in that spiritual evolving may be enough to allow for the Church to become the universal and catholic consciousness Jesus intended.  It has no hope what so ever at all of being that model of Church mired in the corruption and relativism of secular power and financial wealth.  That's the bottom line and that's where things have to start.  I look forward with a great deal of hopeful curiosity to Pope Francis' picks for leadership in the Vatican curia.  I bet none of them will own a cappa magna.



  1. "It has no hope what so ever at all of being that model of Church mired
    in the corruption and relativism of secular power and financial wealth."

    ## What some people want is renewal without reform - which sounds odd.

    As far as some of them are concerned, the evul liberulz can (in effect) go to Hell. I have no hope for the CC - there's too much hatred, bitterness and despair in it. As for the Pope, appearances may be deceptive: if he would reach out to Hans Kueng, or to members of Arcigay, and listen to others, that might be encouraging. But as long as the CC continues to be a Fundy cult (without any of the better features of Fundy Evangelicalism), it's doomed. The pitilessness is what is so nauseating - the lack of compassion. No wonder people are drawn to Buddhism.

  2. I'm half tempted to take that article and do a rebuttal, but then it's written by a member of the Anglican Ordinariate, and in some ways that itself is enough of a rebuttal. It's hard for me to take the observations of an ex Anglican priest now 'converted' to Roman Catholicism very seriously when it comes to institutional reform. After all their idea of reform was to go running to Rome when Papa Benedict waved his magic want and made them Catholic.

    It is possible that Pope Francis will get a ball rolling he can't possibly stop no matter how stringent he may get about fundy pelvic issues. There's been so much pent up frustration for so long, letting open the door of hope may result in tsunami of change--and maybe even more change than he might find comfortable.

  3. After reading your article, I had one question. What was Cardinal Jaoa Braz de Aviz's position toward the American nuns? A quick search found this article in the NCR March 8, 2013 by John Allen.

    Answer: "During his brief stint in the Vatican, Bráz has carved out a reputation as a reconciler, including his approach to the still-thorny relationship with women religious in the United States. His efforts began even before he got to Rome, in an interview he gave to NCR the day his appointment was announced.

    'I want to learn from them and walk with them,' he said of the sisters. 'You have to see people up close, get to know them, what will help them overcome whatever problem there is.'

    That profile hasn’t gone down well with critics, who charge that Bráz and his former deputy, American Archbishop Joseph Tobin, sent mixed signals with respect to the insistence upon orthodoxy and obedience coming from other Vatican officials."

    It's about time...for the "times to be a changing."

  4. I'm so glad that we have you to tell us what Jesus, a 2000 year-old fictional character, not only would have wanted but how the rest of the planet should lead their lives.
    How about you and the Curia bitch slap each other somewhere off to the side and leave the rest of humanity alone to get along without pointless and stupid things like religion?