Updated: Apr 16, 2020
On Wednesday, we saw another sign that there’s a new “normal” at the Vatican these days.
The Vatican announced that Pope Francis has confirmed two top Roman Curia department heads in their current jobs: Cardinal Leonardo Sandri as prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and Cardinal Kurt Koch as president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Journalists weren’t quite sure what that meant. Were they confirmed for new five-year terms? Or for the time being – until Pope Francis’ Curia reform is introduced? Or “until otherwise provided,” to use the classic term of Vatican vagueness?
They asked the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi. He didn’t know either, at least not right away.
One wonders whether the two cardinals have a clear idea of their new mandate.
There is a strong sense in Roman Curia offices that everything is temporary, pending Francis’ reforms, but also an increasing consensus that “temporary” could last a long time. Perhaps that’s why the pope let these two department heads know they shouldn’t be packing their bags quite yet.
To date, in fact, the pope has left almost all the top Roman Curia leaders in place. Some he has formally “confirmed,” others not.
He has named his own men to head the Secretariat of State, the Congregation for Clergy and the Synod of Bishops.