Francis’ next task: selecting a Secretary of State

posted at 12:52 pm on March 18, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

(VATICAN CITY) With delegations from countries around the world arriving in Rome to attend the papal installation Mass tomorrow, attention has now turned to the nominal liaison for diplomacy — but for different reasons.  The election of Pope Francis as pontiff puts an outsider at the head of the Roman Catholic Church, but the choice of Secretary of State will give a large indication of how far Francis will go in reforming the Curia, the bureaucracies of the Vatican.  The Washington Post’s Jason Horowitz reports that cardinals have urged a robust effort:

In his first days since emerging from last week’s secret Sistine Chapel election as the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, Pope Francis has charmed the faithful with his humility, won over the press with his warmth and made history as the first Latin American and first Jesuit pope.

But just as important, Francis has indicated an intention to reform a Vatican government that is widely acknowledged as a den of dysfunction and theater of Italian-accented turf wars. Some cardinals have even suggested that back-stabbing in the papal court helped drive Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, into retirement.

As Francis, 76, goes about staffing the Roman Curia, the bureaucracy that governs the church, the focus among Vatican officials has shifted from the election of the pope who reigns to his appointment of the secretary of state who governs. With the entrenched forces of the Curia weakened by the election’s result, some cardinals are calling for the avuncular Argentine to finish the job by appointing a reformist second-in-command.

“We’ll see in his appointments how serious he is about tackling this stuff,” said John Thavis, a keen church observer and author of “The Vatican Diaries.” “If the secretary of state is one of these same old guys, the curial cardinals are going to feel reassured.”

CBS explains the importance of the position:

The Secretariat of State is arguably the second most important office in the Vatican. The secretary is responsible for both the Church’s external relations with other countries, and the internal relations between the various offices of the Church. The secretary of state decides who gets to see the Pope, vets and suggests names for papal appointments at the Vatican and in Vatican embassies around the world, oversees the Vatican newspaper and press office, and generally keeps tabs on everything and anything that happens regarding the pope and the Church.

The Secretariat of State is divided into two sections: Section for General Affairs, also called the First Section and the Section for Relations with States, or the Second Section.

The First Section is run by the Substitute, a kind of vice-Secretary of State. His office is responsible for helping to write and translate papal documents and speeches and is divided into language groups. Any correspondence that comes in for the pope is dealt with by the First Section. It also handles Vatican publications and protocol.

The Second Section, or Section for Relations with States, is headed by an archbishop who has a role similar to a foreign minister or the U.S. Secretary of State. It deals with relations with other governments and the United Nations as well as working with the Congregation for Bishops in the nomination of bishops and creation of new dioceses. The Secretary for Relations with States often serves as the Vatican’s representative abroad, in place of the pope or secretary of state.

During papal transitions, heads of departments offer their resignation, and usually the new Pope asks them to stay around.  On Saturday, the press office confirmed that Francis had done so — but with a caveat that the positions may well be temporary.  For that matter, so may be the current organizational structure, which bears more resemblance to a royal court than a modern state or corporation.  Horowitz’s report includes this tidbit from Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington:

Before and after the pope’s election, Wuerl said, cardinals have talked about providing the pontiff with more perspective from local churches around the world through papal meetings with leaders of bishops’ conferences. Other cardinals have talked of establishing a system similar to a presidential cabinet rather than a royal court. Wuerl said cardinals expressed interest in holding an annual meeting in Rome to air local issues and having department heads report to the pope and not the secretary of state.

“So you will bypass a lot of the need for what has become a thorn in the side of many today,” Wuerl said. “And that is what is described as Curia engagement in the local church.”

Some of my contacts here say the problem isn’t corruption or malice as some media reports paint it, but inefficiency and organizational obstructions to the mission of evangelization.  The Vatican, these sources say, suffer from the same problems of all entrenched bureaucracies, so reform will probably be aimed and streamlining and creating more responsive units within the Curia. To provide that kind of reform, Francis will have to appoint a cardinal familiar enough with the Vatican to understand its issues without being bound to its current structure.  That will be a very delicate balance to strike, especially for those within the Curia who have every reason to worry about how reform will impact them.

In other news, Joe Biden has landed in Rome and met with the American ambassador to Italy, David Thorne, according to the pool report from Yahoo! reporter Olivier Knox. There will be no meeting between Biden and Pope Francis, however:

The VP will not have a one-on-one meeting with the Pope Tuesday — he’ll attend the mass and take part in the receiving line. Your pooler is advised that the line is closed press but that Vatican TV might show some of it.

The “receiving line” does not refer to the Eucharist during Mass, but in the diplomatic greeting line afterward.  In fact, Pope Francis won’t distribute communion during the Mass, as the press office explained; in the interest of efficiency, 500 priests will serve as ministers of the Eucharist.  This might disappoint some Americans who wondered whether Pope Francis might balk at offering communion to some pro-abortion politicians, as he advised in a joint letter while Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina.  The diplomatic reception line will take place in front of the main altar in St. Peter’s Basilica, and only Vatican TV will have direct access to it.

More news from the briefing today, which focused almost entirely on the arrangements for the Mass of the Inauguration of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome, the more-or-less official name for tomorrow’s ceremony:

  • One hundred and thirty-two delegations have already arrived for the Mass tomorrow, which starts at 9:30 am local time.  They are expecting more arrivals today and tonight.  That includes 31 heads of state and six sovereigns, 11 heads of government (they count Biden among them), as well as many prominent political figures and “celebrities.”
  • The Pope had lunch with Argentina president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner today.  He also met with the current Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone at 10 am this morning, to settle the last arrangements for the Mass tomorrow morning.  Later, he will meet with the Jesuit General, Fr. Adolfo Nicholás.
  • The press office laid out the arrangements for tomorrow’s Mass — where people would be sitting. There will be around 1200 priests and seminarians, hundreds of bishops, and representatives from other religious communities — including Jewish and Muslim representatives.
  • Francis will arrive in the Popemobile or the jeep (they are not sure which yet), leaving at 8:50 and driving through the square as much as possible for as many people to see him as possible.
  • The Inauguration (or Initiation) of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome takes place in the very place where St. Peter met his martyrdom. Piazza San Pietro was the site of Nero’s Circus at that time.  Peter was buried on the site where the Basilica now stands.  Fr. Thomas Rosica said, “This is holy ground.”
  • Thirty-three delegations from Christian churches around the world will meet with Francis on Wednesday, along with delegations from interfaith efforts.
  • The press office released the papal coat of arms and motto today.  It’s the same coat of arms he used as cardinal in Argentina (see below).
  • Motto: Miserando atque eligendo. “Having had mercy, he called him.” From the Gospel of Matthew.

francis-coatofarms

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Uncle Joe will still insert his foot into his mouth somehow. He cannot avoid going somewhere or doing something without competing with Archduke Philip for the most gaffestastic official.

Logus on March 18, 2013 at 1:00 PM

I read that old harpy nan was going with gaffe joe? I didn’t see her named in the article. Does anyone know if she is going?
L

letget on March 18, 2013 at 1:00 PM

One of Bidens’ staffers locked a handful of Cardinals in a closet.

BobMbx on March 18, 2013 at 1:01 PM

The Dbags are working overtime attempting to connect him to the deposed Argentinian junta.

Blake on March 18, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Logus on March 18, 2013 at 1:00 PM

I keep thinking his party is setting him up to pull an Archduke Ferdinand.

Flange on March 18, 2013 at 1:04 PM

The VP will not have a one-on-one meeting with the Pope Tuesday — he’ll attend the mass and take part in the receiving line. Your pooler is advised that the line is closed press but that Vatican TV might show some of it.

How will he go about lecturing the Pope on how true love is found in abortion and homosexual marriage?

OhEssYouCowboys on March 18, 2013 at 1:08 PM

I am so glad you are there Ed, what better way to counter balance the buffoon representing this administration? It really bothers me that Biden is going to be there as a “Catholic” and representative of our government.

msmveritas on March 18, 2013 at 1:09 PM

His next task is to please this Cow of Argentina.

The peopole of the Falklands voted 99% to remain with Britain.

May all the socialists be destroyed.

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Italiano, no doubt.

FlaMurph on March 18, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Sorry, here’s the link.

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Is this an episode on Being Biden?

LetsBfrank on March 18, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Where is the devil in this?

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2013 at 1:13 PM

First Head of state he met?

You have three guesses…

“I asked for his intervention to avoid problems that could emerge from the militarization of Great Britain in the south Atlantic,” Mrs Kirchner told reporters after having lunch with the Pope.

“In the past he has said the Falkland Islands, a UK overseas territory, belong to Argentina.”

Source; BBC News Europe.

IlikedAUH2O on March 18, 2013 at 1:13 PM

With the election of the new pope the ‘importance’ of Europe in the world sunk a lot. Their newspapers all reflect it.

To throw them a bone the new position might be one of “them”. He has to placate the strings who’ll pull him.

He will end up like Obama, with a Nobel, in the pope’s case same high expectations/adulation, then disappointing most all, from the left to the right.

The mainstream media will end up hating him the same as Obama, but stuck with him, because they blew his glory beyond all skies, in spite of their misgivings on his social/Catholic stands and his silence during the Argentine former dicatorship.

The Cow of Argentina is also a dictator, in many forms.

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2013 at 1:17 PM

The US will get a lecture on amnesty for illegals or undocumented aliens in 3…2…1

IlikedAUH2O on March 18, 2013 at 1:17 PM

The USA s/b ashamed for sending Biden/Pelosi to represent the Catholics of the land. They s/b shunned.

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2013 at 1:18 PM

Despite near zero temperatures and flurries of snow and rain, the turnout was 92% from an electorate of 1,650. All but three people voted yes to the question posed on the ballots: “Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an overseas territory of the United Kingdom?”

The Cow of Argentina and the new Pope will undermine the people?

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2013 at 1:19 PM

How ya doin’, Mr. Pope! Say, that Sixteen Chapel is really somethin’!

- Stupid Joe

OhEssYouCowboys on March 18, 2013 at 1:36 PM

The Dbags are working overtime attempting to connect him to the deposed Argentinian junta.

Blake on March 18, 2013 at 1:01 PM

You’ve got to admit it is curious that the head Jesuit in Argentina, a man nearly 40 years old at the time, stood on the sidelines as nearly 30,000 of his fellow countrymen went missing. Now I’m not saying he should have martyred himself by speaking out and becoming one of the missing but apparently he did little by some reports as all of this was going on even though he was in a position better than most to have done something.

Happy Nomad on March 18, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Joe Biden has landed in Rome and met with the American ambassador to Italy, David Thorne, according to the pool report from Yahoo! reporter Olivier Knox. There will be no meeting between Biden and Pope Francis,

The Pope isn’t a fool.

Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Biden, others like them, they assume, PRESUME, that just because they attend a Catholic parish here in the US while supporting, advocating for, even funding, abortion and so much more that is contrary to Catholicism, that they’ll be met by the Pope while they visit Rome with their *stellar Leftwing reputations*…

Lourdes on March 18, 2013 at 1:47 PM

How ya doin’, Mr. Pope! Say, that Sixteen Chapel is really somethin’!

- Stupid Joe

OhEssYouCowboys on March 18, 2013 at 1:36 PM

“Hey, Sir Francis, you know abortion really helps the poor!”

- Sinful, Stupid Joe

Lourdes on March 18, 2013 at 1:48 PM

The USA s/b ashamed for sending Biden/Pelosi to represent the Catholics of the land. They s/b shunned.

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2013 at 1:18 PM

It’s quite shameful, I agree.

I also wonder, even aside from their phony-Catholic nonsense, how anyone considers those two with their *mental issues* to be representatives in other nations of the US. It’s not only embarrassing, it’s like sending the worst possible duo to represent us.

Lourdes on March 18, 2013 at 1:51 PM

“…There will be no meeting between Biden and Pope Francis…”

In anticipation of having to deal with “the stupid” runnings rampant in The Curia, Pope Francis does not wish to risk losing any additional brain cells that a meeting with Sloe-Joe would entail.

Another Drew on March 18, 2013 at 1:52 PM

The USA s/b ashamed for sending Biden/Pelosi to represent the Catholics of the land. They s/b shunned.

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2013 at 1:18 PM

Boehner declined because of the work that was budget/economic work going on in Congress this week. I wonder why Pelosi wasn’t similarly concerned.

Happy Nomad on March 18, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Wuerl said, cardinals have talked about providing the pontiff with more perspective from local churches around the world through papal meetings with leaders of bishops’ conferences.

This approach might cause far more problems in view of the behavior of our own USCCB over the past years.

It would do the pope well to remember that his predecessor, as Cardinal Ratzinger, made a point of reigning in the various national councils by publicly stating that they had no hierarchical authority.

Don L on March 18, 2013 at 2:19 PM

His next task is to please this Cow of Argentina.

The peopole of the Falklands voted 99% to remain with Britain.

May all the socialists be destroyed.

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Papa Francisco and Kirchner apparently do not like each other. And it isn’t just because of social issues as the media seems to be reporting. He thinks that the Kirchners are corrupt politicians who are pretending to help the poor while lining their pockets. (Which they are.) And if you’ve seen any of the various packages of reports of U.S. journalists riding through the Buenos Aires slums, you’ll know that he is pretty beloved in Argentina.

I read something in the Wall Street Journal that suggests that Kirchner and her allies are probably behind the Argentina Dirty Wars smears that the left is trying to push. The leftists in South America don’t need a charismatic Pope chastizing them ala JP II especially since Chavez has kicked it. Apparently, everyone was making nice today because a detente is in their best interests but don’t expect that to continue.

Also, could someone please tell me why the hell Argentines are so obsessed with the Falklands? They’re sparsely populated islands with no natural resources.

Illinidiva on March 18, 2013 at 2:27 PM

This is cool…

“MOSCOW, March 16 (RIA Novosti) – A Constantinople patriarch will attend pope’s inaugural mass for the first time since the Great Schism between the Western and Eastern churches, Vatican Radio said.

The start of the schism dates back to 1054.

The presence of Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who is regarded as the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, at Pope Francis’ official Inaugural Mass at St. Peter’s Square on March 19, is widely regarded as a sign of further improvement in relations between the two churches.

Bartholomew I earlier welcomed the election of Pope Francis with a warm message of congratulations.

“I want to express the hope and the certainty that the Holy Father will contribute to the peace of an already battered humanity, the poor and the suffering,” he said.

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, who shared friendly relationships with John Paul II and Benedict XVI, said that newly-elected Pope Francis “will give a new impetus to the two Churches’ journey towards unity.”

http://en.ria.ru/world/20130316/180051934.html

workingclass artist on March 18, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Here’s a idea. Let’s give him jon hanoi kerri, we don’t need him.

De Oppresso Liber on March 18, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Also, could someone please tell me why the hell Argentines are so obsessed with the Falklands? They’re sparsely populated islands with no natural resources.

Illinidiva on March 18, 2013 at 2:27 PM

There may be as much as 60 billion barrels of oil in the area around the Falklands.

trigon on March 18, 2013 at 2:38 PM

In anticipation of having to deal with “the stupid” runnings rampant in The Curia, Pope Francis does not wish to risk losing any additional brain cells that a meeting with Sloe-Joe would entail.

Another Drew on March 18, 2013 at 1:52 PM

Hee.. I think that it is less stupid and more outright greed and corruption.

As a sidenote, I’m sort of confused as to why Bergolio wasn’t elected in 2005. Benedict XVI was a brilliant theologian and I like the fact that he actually quit, but it just seemed like things got really out of hand while he was in charge. The only thing that I can think of is that the Cardinals were well aware that Bergolio wouldn’t let them keep their privleges and perks.

Illinidiva on March 18, 2013 at 2:38 PM

There may be as much as 60 billion barrels of oil in the area around the Falklands.

trigon on March 18, 2013 at 2:38 PM

Ahh.. Greed. Didn’t know that.

Illinidiva on March 18, 2013 at 2:39 PM

There may be as much as 60 billion barrels of oil in the area around the Falklands.

THE POWER OF FRACKING!

Another Drew on March 18, 2013 at 3:04 PM

There may be as much as 60 billion barrels of oil in the area around the Falklands.

THE POWER OF FRACKING!

Another Drew on March 18, 2013 at 3:04 PM

I don’t think a lot of fracking will be going on in the South Atlantic. But it is good to know that there is a material motivator behind the whole situation. Until that it seemed silly.

Illinidiva on March 18, 2013 at 3:12 PM

Also, could someone please tell me why the hell Argentines are so obsessed with the Falklands? They’re sparsely populated islands with no natural resources.

Illinidiva on March 18, 2013 at 2:27 PM

They are not. She is, to divert from all the political woes she’s in.

You’re right an all her corruption.

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2013 at 3:15 PM

They are not. She is, to divert from all the political woes she’s in.

You’re right an all her corruption.

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Yeah.. I know it is a look at the shiny thing-y over here ploy to keep people distracted from the hyper-inflation like what the Argentine dictatorship did in the 1980s. However, I was wondering if it was something more than just hyper-nationalism and South American anti-colonialism. It does seem kind of silly from an outsider’s perspective to be fighting over this.

Illinidiva on March 18, 2013 at 3:38 PM

The Dbags are working overtime attempting to connect him to the deposed Argentinian junta.

Blake on March 18, 2013 at 1:01 PM

You’ve got to admit it is curious that the head Jesuit in Argentina, a man nearly 40 years old at the time, stood on the sidelines as nearly 30,000 of his fellow countrymen went missing. Now I’m not saying he should have martyred himself by speaking out and becoming one of the missing but apparently he did little by some reports as all of this was going on even though he was in a position better than most to have done something.

Happy Nomad on March 18, 2013 at 1:46 PM

As an Argentinean I can talk about that. The current president, Cristina Kischner, belonged to one of the left terrorist organizations acting in the country during the dictatorship years, along with her husband, the previous president. When they got into power they began prosecuting everyone who remotely had any relation to the government of the 70′s/ early 80′s, even though we were about 30 years detached from that episode and everyone had been amnestied by previous democratic presidents. The actions of the current president (and her late husband) were completely out of spite, not because of any noble or reasoned reason but simply because she had the power to stick it to those she had not been able to defeat back in the 70′s. With the justice system stacked in her favor (on top of the rampart corruption in the country) they use whatever piece of dirt against anyone just to get convictions.

If Jorge Bergoglio (Pope Francis) had have any participation on anything related to the government of the 70′s, as some initially claimed, the current Argentinean administration would have exploited that years ago when they went in the vengeful tirade against those related to the dictatorship of the time. This would have been even more the case since Jorge Bergoglio has been a staunch opponent of the president’s policies for years, and Cristina is known for shutting up her opponents in any way she can. Yet nothing came out it. Pope Francis had no relation to the government of the time.

Some have moved now to accuse him of “not doing enough” at the time, which in itself is a completely arbitrary measure of the man. What you may consider “enough” may not be what someone else considers enough. That is, while you may think that “enough” involves picking up a weapon and fighting back, others may consider a political approach to be just as effective. In Argentina, by all accounts from people who knew Bergoglio he did plenty to help those who were having trouble, and he did as much as he could have done to get the two Jesuits that were arrested released, even though in the structure of the Argentinean church he was a low ranking servant of God.

What all these accusations come down to is grasping at straws trying to find something to tarnish the new Pope with. It is using the fact that there is a lot of misunderstanding and misconceptions about what happened during the so called “dirty war” in Argentina that the left (those who did innocent killings) have been using for decades to get public opinion on their side.

ptcamn on March 18, 2013 at 3:41 PM

“avuncular Argentine” – LOL

KS Rex on March 18, 2013 at 3:52 PM

ptcamn on March 18, 2013 at 3:41 PM

First, Just based on some of the reporting that came out of Argentina, it strikes me that Bergolio was way too personally popular for Kirchner to get rid of even if she really wanted to. I’m an American, not an Argentine, so I don’t know if that is the case after seeing a few CNN video tours through the Buenos Aires slums. However, it does seem sort of politically difficult for a false champion of the poor to try to summarily arrest and try the humble religious man who spent his time building drug rehab centers and celebrating Mass in the slums. I’m sure that gets into Kirchner’s craw that she couldn’t touch him.

Second, there is the whole idea of a guile hero rather than the martyr. At least that is what the Pope’s supporters are saying. Oscar Romero might have been a greater force for good in El Salvador if he wasn’t assasinated.

Illinidiva on March 18, 2013 at 4:11 PM

Biden and Pelosi….great Catholics. /s Hope the Pope excommunicates them in person.

Dingbat63 on March 18, 2013 at 4:41 PM

First, Just based on some of the reporting that came out of Argentina, it strikes me that Bergolio was way too personally popular for Kirchner to get rid of even if she really wanted to. I’m an American, not an Argentine, so I don’t know if that is the case after seeing a few CNN video tours through the Buenos Aires slums. However, it does seem sort of politically difficult for a false champion of the poor to try to summarily arrest and try the humble religious man who spent his time building drug rehab centers and celebrating Mass in the slums. I’m sure that gets into Kirchner’s craw that she couldn’t touch him.

Second, there is the whole idea of a guile hero rather than the martyr. At least that is what the Pope’s supporters are saying. Oscar Romero might have been a greater force for good in El Salvador if he wasn’t assasinated.

Illinidiva on March 18, 2013 at 4:11 PM

I am not sure what you are trying to say with the second paragraph in this case. But in regards to the first point Kirschner has found multiple ways to eliminate opponents regardless of their popularity. From character assassination, political and economic pressure,to simply buying the opposition or the public opinion. She is rarely doing the dirty work directly herself, so it wouldn’t have affected her. If there had been any dirt they could find on Bergoglio it would have been exploited a long while ago.

ptcamn on March 18, 2013 at 8:07 PM

In the second paragraph, I was agreeing with you. A huge inspiration among a lot of young Catholics in the U.S. is Oscar Romero who ended up getting shot in El Salvador. I’m thinking that Bergolio did more good by keeping himself under the radar and doing good. He did a lot more good in Argentina as archbishop and is going to do a lot more good as Pope than he would have as Jesuit cleric tortured and killed by authorities for speaking out.

As for the whole Kischner relationship, I’m from the States and I’ve seen some truly odious high ranking Catholic officials get comfy “time outs” for their behavior. (See Cardinal Law). I’d assume that late JP II and Benedict would have probably given Bergolio a cushy Rome job rather than risk opening wounds in Argentina. I agree with you that there is nothing there but there isn’t anything to suggest that Kischner wouldn’t make something up. I’m assuming that lots of the charges are trumped up in these instances. But she couldn’t touch him because he was both popular and innocent.

Illinidiva on March 18, 2013 at 11:55 PM