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Interesting appointments at the Roman Curia

VATICAN ( The Vatican announced a series of key appointments in the Roman Curia on September 21, as Pope Francis began assembling his own Vatican leadership team.

The pope confirmed incumbent prefects of two Vatican congregations in their positions; Archbishop Gerhard Müller, in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Fernando Cardinal Filoni, head of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

Pope Francis left all leaders of the Roman Curia in their posts until other provisions were made. These two appointments are no longer provisional.

In what is a surprise announcement, Mauro Cardinal Piacenza, formerly prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, becomes the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary. It has raised questions as the prefect of a major congregation has considerably more influence over everyday Vatican policies than the Major Penitentiary.

However, Cardinal Piacenza is recovering from heart surgery and may benefit from a less demanding post. The Apostolic Penitentiary is the Vatican tribunal with jurisdiction over matters involving the internal forum—relationships involving matters of conscience between a penitent and confessor, or an individual and his spiritual director.

Cardinal Piacenza replaces Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, who is retiring at the age of 75.

To replace Cardinal Piacenza, Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Benjamin Stella, who has been head of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the training house for Vatican diplomats, as the new prefect of the Congregation for Clergy.

And to fill the opening created at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, Bishop Giampiero Gloder, a ranking official of the Secretariat of State, has been named.

In perhaps the most interesting change, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, who has been the secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, as Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops.

He replaces Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, who is being sent to Germany as apostolic nuncio—at least a move sideways and perhaps a demotion. Pope Francis has spoken of his desire to give the synod of bishops a bit more bite and evidently chose Archbishop Baldisseri as his personal choice to carry out that role.

The pope also confirmed the secretaries, members and consulters of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, leaving those two offices essentially intact.

He did, however, make minor changes. Bishop Protase Rugambwa, who had been an official at the Congregation for Evangelisation of Peoples, is now the adjunct secretary and Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, who was vice-president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, will now be an assistant secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The latter change could be significant, although Archbishop Di Noia was already working with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 

Pope Benedict XVI had named the American Dominican as vice-president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission last year, in an evident attempt to reinvigorate dialogue with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X.


By detaching him, at least formally, from the Ecclesia Dei Commission, Pope Francis may be signalling that the talks with the Society of St. Pius X are no longer on the map.

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