Changes in the Congregation for Bishops

Rocco Palmo reports a number of changes in the Congregation for Bishops. In terms of American members, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington is newly appointed. Cardinals Justin Rigali (emeritus of Philadelphia) and Raymond Burke (the Holy See’s “chief justice”) are out. Cardinal William Levada continues.

Other new members are tne new Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, and the new head of the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri.

Sad to see Card Burke removed :frowning:

I saw the slew of appointments and confirmations for that dicastery this morning. Leave it to Rocco Palmo to sort it out. I didn’t exactly know who was in it to begin with (besides Cardinal Oullet being the head), so this is helpful background info.

But, I should add, very glad to see Card Ouellet retained as head of the Congregation.


This actually makes sense if you’re trying to distribute power. Cardinal Burke has a position of a lot of power over the bishops. He is the chief justice (so to speak) of the Church.

If he wee on that Congregation, there would be a temptation to deffer to him all the taime.

The article posits that the reasons for the change are primarily pastoral in nature, but also quotes an EWTN interview with Cardinal Burke in which he seems to disagree with the Pope’s pastoral approach.

Overall, Pope Francis seems to be redefining how the Church approaches issues of moral concern, not the underlying moral theology. For example, in Evangelii Gaudium, he writes about how we engage the world in protecting the vulnerable. Notably, he includes the unborn along with the poor as part of a seamless whole:
*207. Any Church community, if it thinks it can comfortably go its own way without creative concern and effective cooperation in helping the poor to live with dignity and reaching out to everyone, will also risk breaking down, however much it may talk about social issues or criticize governments. It will easily drift into a spiritual worldliness camouflaged by religious practices, unproductive meetings and empty talk.

  1. Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question. I want to be completely honest in this regard. This is not something subject to alleged reforms or “modernizations”. It is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life. On the other hand, it is also true that we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish, especially when the life developing within them is the result of rape or a situation of extreme poverty. Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?*
    He follows that paragraph immediately with concern for ecology and pollution:
  1. There are other weak and defenceless beings who are frequently at the mercy of economic interests or indiscriminate exploitation. I am speaking of creation as a whole. We human beings are not only the beneficiaries but also the stewards of other creatures. Thanks to our bodies, God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement. Let us not leave in our wake a swath of destruction and death which will affect our own lives and those of future generations.[177] Here I would make my own the touching and prophetic lament voiced some years ago by the bishops of the Philippines: “An incredible variety of insects lived in the forest and were busy with all kinds of tasks… Birds flew through the air, their bright plumes and varying calls adding color and song to the green of the forests… God intended this land for us, his special creatures, but not so that we might destroy it and turn it into a wasteland… After a single night’s rain, look at the chocolate brown rivers in your locality and remember that they are carrying the life blood of the land into the sea… How can fish swim in sewers like the Pasig and so many more rivers which we have polluted? Who has turned the wonderworld of the seas into underwater cemeteries bereft of color and life?”[178]*

Right. I wouldn’t necessarily read into his not being confirmed as being some sort of slight to Cardinal Burke. There are plenty of other considerations.

Are we honestly expected to believe that Cards Burke, Piacenza and Bagnasco, three of the most prominent conservative Churchmen in the world all happened to need to be released from the same congregation, on the same day, because all three just happened to have “other considerations”?

Now, like I said above, I’m very happy that Card Ouellet was retained as Prefect, but it would be absurd to pretend that these changes are not ideological.

Cardinal Burke and Pope Francis seem to me to have very different takes on things. Take some of the public statements of the Cardinal and try to imagine the Pope saying them, or do it the other way around. I can’t even imagine it because they approach things from very different directions.

It will be interesting to see if the type of people appointed as bishop changes in the future and just what that may mean, especially if the reports are correct that the Pope wants more emphasis on the national bishops’ conferences.

Nor can I picture Pope Francis in episcopal gauntlets.

Nor can I picture Cardinal Burke in a polyester poncho.


Why does this matter?

Here’s an interview with Cardinal Wuerl from a few years ago. Other than the pastoral communion thing, he sounds openly orthodox on abortion, stem cells, etc… even chastising liberals who revere science so much yet can’t acknowledge emwombed human life.

Cardinal Ouellet has been excellent with bishop appointments.

Thanks for posting.

Oh I agree, Card. Ouellet is great, that’s why I’m happy he was retained. I think it was pretty expected, since the rumors are that he’s friends with Francis, but it’s very good news regardless.

I’m really hoping that Card. Burke will remain as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura.


This can also be seen as making sense within the framework of Pope Francis’ spirituality of how he understands the Holy Spirit wills the transmission of the Faith and the Churches focus on forging ahead with this “new evangelization.” It’s apparent the Pope understands – at least part of this – to include a unison of soft tone. (To emphasis listening to the Truth of God’s Mercy).

(I believe he draws on this in paragraph 179 in EVANGELII GAUDIUM.)

Regardless if some of us may find active correction (sometimes toughly worded) guides us more effectively – the majority of Bishops and Pope believe this does not effectively communicate the transmission of the Faith and the hope within the Faith at this current point of history. It is what it is.

I felt pretty hurt by this when I read about it, but I really suggest that folks avoud getting their hearts knotted up too badly when it cones to Church politics. I mean, will there be a noticeable difference in the bishops appointed as a result of this change? Maybe, but not likely. Will the bishops appointed be of lower quality? Nope. How many bad young priests do you know? There arent many bad priests left from which to make bishops. It is like the USCCB president election. The media made it sound like Archbishop Kurtz was some major progressive win over Archbishop Chaput. But there is no daylight between the two!

The Church may be polarized among folks older than sixty. But there is a more uniform orthodoxy the younger you get. The media speaks to a segment of the Church that will be much less significant in 20 years.

Great post :thumbsup:

This is what a lot of people seem to think, and I certainly hope you’re right

The news reports indicate not.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit