From David Gibson:
After last month’s annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I wrote a story handicapping the four American churchman who enjoyed growing influence in the new(ish) pontificate of Pope Francis.
They were Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who is one of the eight members of Francis “kitchen cabinet” of advisors on reforming the Roman Curia; Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who was elected vice-president of the USCCB and is the likely incoming president in three years; Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, whose advice the Vatican has tapped and who was rumored for an important curial post; and Cardinal Raymond Burke, head the Vatican’s canonical court system and more importantly a member of the Congregation for Bishops. That latter role gave Burke a decisive voice in pushing through a number of key stateside appointments, sometimes against the wishes of U.S.-based bishops.
Burke was something of an outlier on that list — a very conservative holdover from the Benedict XVI era and a fan of the kind of high liturgical finery that Pope Francis does not take to, at all.
Today the calculus of the “Top Four” list changed, perhaps decisively, as Francis dropped Burke from the Congregation for Bishops and added Wuerl. The two cardinals are not known to be allies, to say the least. It’s even less likely now that they’ll be exchanging Christmas cards this year.
Wuerl will remain as Archbishop of Washington but the new appointment means he will make regular trips to the Vatican to vet candidates for bishop in the U.S. and around the world — perhaps the most important way that Francis can secure his legacy.
Rocco also has details on what this move may mean.