Spanish appointment tells Curia heads: You can go home again

Spanish appointment tells Curia heads: You can go home again

A chapter in Pope Francis’ revolution was written today when the pope named Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera as archbishop of Valencia, Spain.

The appointment was remarkable mainly because it violated the age-old Roman Curia maxim, “You can’t go home again.” Cardinal Cañizares was being sent back to Valencia, where he was ordained a priest 44 years ago, after a five-year stint as head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

UPDATE: Cardinal Cañizares said in an interview that he was happy to be going back to his home diocese, and that he told the pope he wanted to "smell like the sheep" (using one of Francis' favorite phrases about pastors.)

Traditionally, Roman Curia department heads, especially if they’re cardinals, stay on the job until retirement. And after they retire, most continue to reside in Rome rather than returning to pastoral work in their home countries.

I’ve argued that if Pope Francis really wants to emphasize service over prestige in Vatican appointments, he should make it clear that those called to Rome are there temporarily, with no guarantee of career advancement, and can expect to return home after their five-year term is over.

That’s what’s happening to Cardinal Cañizares. A theologian known in Rome as the “little Ratzinger,” he was archbishop of Toledo when he was picked by Pope Benedict to head the liturgy congregation, where he presided over a series of conservative decisions (his latest instruction was to tone down the exchange of the sign of peace during Mass, to reflect greater “sobriety” in liturgy.)

The 68-year-old Cañizares was tipped by Spanish sources in recent months as a possible new archbishop of Madrid. Instead, he’s going to Valencia, a smaller and less important archdiocese. Madrid, also announced today, went to Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra, who had headed the Valencia archdiocese.

No one has yet been appointed as Cañizares’ successor at the Vatican's liturgy congregation.

It will be interesting to see if Pope Francis is willing to send younger department heads back to pastoral service after a few years at the Vatican, rather than keeping them on forever. The turnover would be good for the church, and would remind the prelates that their time in Rome is a sacrifice, not a career move.

23 comments (Add your own)

1. D.A.Howard wrote:
Somehow I think Pope Francis will not stop shaking up the Curia. He reminds me of an evangelical pastor "on fire for God." All emotion, no rationality. As a social scientist, you actually need time to test if your reforms worked. 5 years is a typical timeframe.

Thu, August 28, 2014 @ 2:13 PM

2. je wrote:
I agree with Pope.

Thu, August 28, 2014 @ 2:13 PM

3. Kelly wrote:
Younger bishops are generally promoted to Rome because they have caused issues and shown their inability to deal with a diocese. Burke is the prime example. No sane person should want these guys in charge of the pastoral care of others.

Thu, August 28, 2014 @ 2:21 PM

4. Taad wrote:
Something is wrong in Rome, when people and ideas of prior popes are rejected. When our past is looked upon as being in error and the idea that we now have discovered a "new way". This is not of Jesus Christ! This is NOT the Catholic Church of 2000 years. We are falling in to apostasy! These folks may approve changes in what is a marriage, divorce, contraception, and liturgy. But many will not follow. There will be a small underground church who will wait for God to restore the Faith.

Thu, August 28, 2014 @ 3:10 PM

5. Patrick wrote:
It would appear, to me, that this pope is purging the hierarchy of the more conservative prelates and replacing them with moderates. This appointment is yet another step in that process. As was the replacement of Cardinal Raymond Burke with Cardinal Donald Wuerl at the Congregation for Bishops.

The politically astute in the clergy (and all of them have been forced to become politically perceptive if they wish to avoid a posting to Siberia) will note this and respond accordingly.

Thu, August 28, 2014 @ 5:41 PM

6. Jude wrote:
Taad is correct. While I pray for his health and safety, I think Pope Francis is leading us in the wrong direction. The upcoming Synod is a source of great concern.

Thu, August 28, 2014 @ 6:33 PM

7. TeaPot562 wrote:
IMHO moving top persons periodically from the Center of the Church out to the dioceses, and vice-versa, is a very good idea. The rotation exposes those in the Curia to what the current problems are in their native lands, and exposes provincial heads to what the conflicts and problems may be in the Curia.
This may reduce conflict from misunderstanding the problems.
Does that give the Holy Spirit a larger field in which to inspire our leaders?
Just a thought.

Thu, August 28, 2014 @ 7:15 PM

8. Gelemus Fuscus wrote:
I don't ever recall a Pope soliciting the opinions of anyone ever about how to run the church, the Church is an absolute monarchy, not a democratic debating society. The maxim is Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience, true Christian Catholics never question the Holy Father. Matthew 16: 18-19 18 And I tell thee this in my turn, that thou art Peter, and it is upon this rock that I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; 19 and I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Thu, August 28, 2014 @ 9:03 PM

9. Johannes de Silentio wrote:
I join in the hope that Cardinal Braz de Aviz may find his way back to some Brazilian outpost.

Thu, August 28, 2014 @ 9:29 PM

10. Allan Wafkowski wrote:
Francis has been habitually rude and abrupt to orthodox Catholics. At the same time, he has been gushing goodwill to protestants, Muslims and anybody else who isn't an orthodox Catholic. This behavior makes his gestures appear hollow and perhaps deceitful.

Thu, August 28, 2014 @ 10:38 PM

11. Gary wrote:
I think it's wrong to assume the Pope is rejecting the ideas and work of previous pontiffs because he returns a Curia official to his home diocese after his term in the Vatican is finished. It is the Pope's perogative to make such decisions and we shouldn't second guess him. Besides, none of us know whether the Curia official wanted to return home. Perhaps it was his wish.

Fri, August 29, 2014 @ 4:05 AM

12. TerryC wrote:
Cardinal Burke sent to Rome as punishment? What a silly notion. No one gets to be what in Catholic Church Canon Law terms is equivalent to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as punishment. Burke would be awesome as the Cardinal Archbishop of a major United States archdiocese such as Chicago or Washington D.C.

Fri, August 29, 2014 @ 8:30 AM

13. Emmett Coyne wrote:
The Curia must go altogether. It is still a remnant of the Roman Empire, more of Caesar than Christ. No need to reform it as remove it.
Other world religions functions well without a "curia." Ask the Hindus how they do it.
As it is, it is a structure for male power elites.
The Holy Spirit is to hold and lead the community, not self-serving men.

Fri, August 29, 2014 @ 8:38 AM

14. Mhairi wrote:
@TerryC Let Rome keep Burke. If Francis must pack him back to the US send him to Chicago. We sure don't want him in DC. Besides, Wuerl isn't 75.

Fri, August 29, 2014 @ 9:51 AM

15. Chuck Murphy wrote:
The prevailing belief is elevation, promotion, climbing, going "back". An ordained man should serve wherever needed and not glory in his exaltation above others. A diocesan assignment is in no way a demotion for a bureaucrat bishop. That is the definition of an empire, not of a community of disciples.

Fri, August 29, 2014 @ 10:01 AM

16. Frank wrote:
Brothers and sisters, let's not fall into the same trap as the secular media and view every event such as this through a lens of politics. Politics is all the secular media know, and they see everything through that lens. Am I saying there are never any "politics" in the Vatican? Of course not, I'm not an idiot. But the PRIMARY issue the Pope (Francis or any other) must keep in mind is the overall mission of the Church. He must act prayerfully and in accord with what he believes the Holy Spirit is guiding him to do, and taking some of the curia's ambitions down a peg or three seems like a fine idea. (Agreeing with Mr. Murphy.) To the extent that individuals are consumed with ambition rather than pastoral charity, they are placing themselves ahead of Christ and the Church, and Pope Francis may be trying to deal with that. Bravo! Will he make mistakes? Yes, he is human, after all, and his charism of infallibility obviously does not extend to the day-to-day activities such as appointing and assigning Bishops and Cardinals. Is he more "moderate" than Benedict XVI? Certainly one can draw that conclusion if one desires, but that's the political lens, again, and it should be no surprise, based on his other actions and statements since becoming Pope, that Francis believes we all got too wrapped up in internal issues in recent years and did not publicly emphasize enough the mission of the Church, to save souls and serve those in need. I was one of those people, and have taken his remarks as valid criticism, to which I am trying to respond in my heart. Am I saying those things (liturgical fidelity, church architecture, proper music, life issues, the true teachings of Vatican II rather than the so-called "spirit" of the Council, etc.) are not important? Not at all. But I think Francis is correct that we created so much noise bickering about these things that it turned us too much inward. If he sees changing curial assignments as one way to turn attention away from the internal details and more toward the salvation of souls and care for the poor and marginalized, that's his prerogative. In fact, it's his job. We, as faithful Catholics, should try to understand this rather than sniping at him. Similarly, those who, for whatever reason, personally dislike and/or disagree with so-called "conservatives" such as Cardinal Burke and Pope Emeritus Benedict ought to put their weapons away, as well. We're all entitled to our personal opinions, but none of us can deny the teachings of Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium, and there is not one thing Pope Francis has done or said (when he is quoted correctly, at least) that is in conflict with these fundamentals. Not one. Let's also all keep in mind that we are not privy to everything Francis knows about the situations with which he is dealing, and the same goes for any Cardinal or Bishop. It's so easy to rush to snap judgments based on just what we read and hear...but that is a good way to be wrong, most of the time, since whatever we read and hear is coming through someone else, who almost certainly has applied some of their own perspective to what they write or say. I'll admit there are some things Francis has done and (allegedly) said that make me wonder and worry a bit, but so what? I'm not the Pope or a Bishop, Priest or Deacon, just a lay person trying to get my family, my neighbor and myself to Heaven. That's a big enough job without trying to do the Pope's job for him, too. We need to trust in the triune God, who has, as Christ promised, preserved the Church for 2,000 years despite the unceasing efforts of many of her members and even many Popes and Bishops over the centuries to destroy her. But the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum of saints, and such will be the case until the Last Day.

Lastly, in reply to Mr. Coyne: No, in a Church with over a billion professed members worldwide, with a central hierarchy and teachings AS ORDAINED BY CHRIST (see Matthew 16:18 and following, not to mention all the rest of Sacred Scripture), you can't just do away with the curia. Someone has to handle the administration of the structure, and without the structure, you have chaos. You say, "ask the Hindus how they do it." Really? Do exactly what, pray tell? There is no such thing as a Hindu fact, there is no such thing as "Hindu teaching" in any unified sense. See my reference to chaos, above. There are as many different Hindu beliefs as there are Hindus, and just about as many "gods." Talk about comparing apples and about comparing apples and jumbo jets? You'd be closer to the mark there than trying to compare the Catholic Church (or even Christianity in general) with Hinduism. In fact, the Catholic Church is, in addition to being the original Church founded by Christ, the only one that maintains the faith worldwide as given to us by Christ and His Apostles--a single set of teachings entrusted to the care of the Apostles and their successors, the Pope and the Bishops, with Christ's own authority on Earth. So any comparison with "other world religions" is facially invalid. As the Catechism teaches, all faiths have elements of truth, but only the Catholic Church still holds the deposit of the original faith in all its fullness. Thanks be to God!

Let's pray for our Holy Father, do our best to follow the commandments of Christ and the teachings of His Church, and leave the rest to God. He's a lot smarter than we are.

Fri, August 29, 2014 @ 12:32 PM

17. Joseph S. wrote:
Mhairi wrote: Keep Wuerl. He's about as non-Catholic as one can get.

Fri, August 29, 2014 @ 2:24 PM

18. Beth wrote:
The Hindus don't run the world's largest educational system, or the world's largest health care system, or the world's largest church based charity organization. Catholics do, and it requires a human organization, no matter how imperfect, I keep the wheels turning.

Fri, August 29, 2014 @ 3:52 PM

19. Kathleen wrote:
It would seem that there are many readers of "The Pew" that are looking for a lenient Catholic Church. Our Lord does not have that in mind.

Fri, August 29, 2014 @ 4:04 PM

20. Lee Bacchi wrote:
Only in the Catholic Church is someone who is 68 years old considered young!!

Lenient? Maybe not. Merciful and compassionate, YES!!

Sat, August 30, 2014 @ 11:03 AM

21. Rondre wrote:
Interesting to read the comments now that some feel that they lost their "IN" at the Vatican. A good corporation moves people around regularly. No one should think they have a permanent job at the curia.

Some bishops who have caused havoc in their diocese have been sent to Rome.

Still laughing at some of the comments. Too funny.

Tue, September 2, 2014 @ 5:04 PM

22. Rondre wrote:
This sounds like something written after Vatican II.

Taad wrote: There will be a small underground church who will wait for God to restore the Faith.

Tue, September 2, 2014 @ 5:08 PM

23. Rondre wrote:
Wow Kathleen you know the will of God??????

Tue, September 2, 2014 @ 5:11 PM

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