Pope Francis and Spring Cleaning at the Vatican

I don’t usually write about internal Church government. The reasons are simple: I don’t know anything about it, and I don’t really care.

I am a pew-sitting Catholic who mostly takes from the Church rather than gives to it. I take the graces of the sacraments, the support and advice of very good pastors, and teachings which form a moral spine for my life.

All these squabbles about the Vatican Bank and the boys in the Vatican running amok don’t affect my mostly-taking relationship with the Church. However, I’ve been around government of another sort (and I think governments all have some of the same challenges) to have a silent opinion about what has happened inside the Vatican to fuel the situation that led to the recent problems.

I won’t say more than that because, as I said in paragraph one, I don’t know.

However, if what I think is true, then Pope Francis is doing exactly what needs to be done to set things right. Deacon Greg, as always, has the story. What it boils down to is that the Holy Father is getting ready to clean the Vatican house. He has appointed a new committee to help him run things. Only one current Vatican official is on it.

That doesn’t mean that everyone he’s giving the old heave-ho was a bad actor. But it certainly is the only real way to clear out the entrenched and what appears to be, ingrown, situation that created the previous bad acting.

I would guess that the change will be welcomed by some of the people who end up leaving. After all, the Pope isn’t killing them. He’s giving them new and different jobs. That will probably blow a fresh new breeze through their lives as well as the corridors of the Vatican.

Pope Francis is bringing in people from all over the world to run things in Vatican City. This, in my opinion, is a reflection of what the Church is. The Roman Catholic Church is not so much Roman as it Catholic. By that I mean that it is universal. It speaks every language and has every color, inclination and face that humankind presents.

It is, like Jesus Himself, incarnated human in order to speak for all humanity. Church governance needs to reflect that fact. The ingrown situation in the Vatican up to now is a relic of earlier centuries when transportation and communication with the various limbs of the Church could take months, or in some cases, even years. It was the functional solution for Church administration in those times.

Pope Francis is moving the Church forward without changing it one whit. It is and will always be the same Bride of Christ that it has always been. It’s just that this bride wears the face of all humankind.

From The Deacon’s Bench:

Pope Francis marked his first month as pope on Saturday by naming nine high-ranking prelates from around the globe to a permanent advisory group to help him run the Catholic Church and study a reform of the Vatican bureaucracy — a bombshell announcement that indicates he intends a major shift in how the papacy should function.
The panel includes only one current Vatican official; the rest are cardinals and a monsignor from Europe, Africa, North and South America, Asia and Australia — a clear indication that Francis wants to reflect the universal nature of the church in its governance and core decision-making, particularly given the church is growing and counts most of the world’s Catholics in the southern hemisphere.
In the run-up to the conclave that elected Francis pope one month ago, a reform of the Vatican bureaucracy was a constant drumbeat, as were calls to make the Vatican itself more responsive to the needs of bishops around the world. Including representatives from each continent in a permanent advisory panel to the pope would seem to go a long way toward answering those calls… (Read the rest here.)

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  • FW Ken

    I don’t know if you’ve seen this story, and it may not be true, but it should be:


    Apparently the pope made breakfast for his guard. :-)

  • http://mywordwall.wordpress.com Imelda

    There are a lot of bad elements in the Church that need to be addressed. If the Pope can clean-up just one of them, he would have made a great stride. I am so sad that the purity and beauty of the Church as the Bride of Christ is sullied by the human elements in the Church. And I am more saddened still that many, even Catholics like us, could not get past the imperfections and sinfulness of the members and officials of the Church, to see that by herself, the Church is as perfect as she should be. If we Catholics look at her that way, we will not go about looking for something else to be a part of.

  • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

    My family live in Rome and have plenty of church friendships and contacts; my brother, as the most senior figure in the Italian non-profit sector, has to deal with the Church practically every day (he is not a Catholic himself); several of my relations and friends are Church employees. I can’t NOT have an opinion on the reform of the Church, and it is indeed urgent. Some areas of the Church, especially but not exclusively those to do with Cardinal Bertone and his crew, are disasters either waiting to happen or that have already happened. The Vatican bank, IOR, has resisted reform and international oversight to the point where international banking bodies – not, surely, the most puritanical of groups – treat it as no better than those things that nebulous interests set up in the Cayman Islands for the convenience of drugs barons or Russian oligarchs. An upright and devout Catholic banker, Dr.Gotti Tedeschi, called in to improve its reputation a couple of years ago, has since been driven out again in the most humiliating and public possible manner, as if he were a thief caught with his hands in the till rather than an honourable professional trying to do his best for the Church. At the same time, the attempted (and fortunately failed) take-over of the hospital and university of San Raffaele, Milan, showed the most debased kind of empire-building at work. This business empire, consisting of a giant private hospital, an expensive private university, and various related companies, set up with a wholly mendacious Catholic tinge and ran for decades by an unfrocked priest called Don Verze’, was a nest of heretics, agnostics and atheists. Verze’ himself seems to have delighted in vocally criticizing the Church every chance he could, especially on such matters as sexual morality, contraception, and stem cell experimentation. After decades of media attention and flattery, it suddenly went under, a year or two ago, in the most classically disgraceful bankruptcy imaginable – even to the extent of Don Verze”s right-hand man shooting himself. Well, would you believe that, in the middle of this disaster, while good Catholics everywhere should have checked the desire to crow and the impulse to say I-told-you-so, the Vatican itself made a bid for the bankrupt entity? Fortunately the administrator found a better bid from a secular source, but the impression made was awful; especially since it came after a long period during which several senior Church figures had been seen to collaborate with Verze’, in spite of his defrocking, and with his actively anti-Catholic business empire. There is an old Roman saying: “Pecunia non olet”, money has no smell. Oh yes it does, my reverend lords and fathers in Christ. Oh yes it does. And then there is the continuing Medjugorje ramp, and probably a lot more.

    However, I hope people remember not to throw the baby out with the bath-water. The location of the Church in Rome is a divine ordnance, not a political choice, and there are plenty of reasons why the Italian tinge should not be ignored. There is in the world today an attempt to create a supranational group of bodies with no tinge of localism or distinct culture: the UN and its agencies. The result? Far from becoming an impartial arbiter between nations, the UN has become the shelter and grazing ground for all the groups – especially what one would call “politically correct” groups – that regard themselves as above the ordinary and better than the common herd; of subversive Muslim and other groupings; and of expensive and corrupt bureaucracy with no purpose. The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, personally responsible for a territorial diocese; and while the day to day business is carried out by a Cardinal Vicar, this keeps him grounded and in touch with the daily realities of priests and parishes. And don’t underestimate the importance of having the Church placed in the country that has probably the best claim to be the heartland of the Christian West, the land of St.Anselm, St.Thomas Aquinas, Dante, St.Philip Neri, Blessed Cesare Baronio, Galileo Galilei – the land where Western music, painting, architecture, science and history were codified, and that is dense with the memory and the reality of Catholic life past and present in a way I can’t even begin to describe. No other country in the world would do.


    If we probed every group-n religious and political and corporation, State, City and County government and every family we find the same mixture: sin abounds but as Paul says Grace more abounds. Gossips, including the 24/7/365 media and blogs just love to say tut tut see the sinners, and incur Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisee who looked down at the Sinner and showed himself to be worse. There is no BOMBSHELL in this papal gesture, Bertone was not the problem despite the insight from the Roman-connection here, A retired priest from this part of the world who worked in the Vatican under Pius X11 and Montini as his Sec of State told me recently (he is now retired in the USA) that the entrenched Vatican middle level bureaucrats is the problem. His opinion is this Pope, who was given a report on the problem by the BXV1 three-cardinal committee, is that he will make them bishops and clear the lot out. BXV1 as you know named a layman German Banker to head the Vatican Bank and that was a warning shot and presage of things to come. The cardinals by definition and appointment are bishops, named fictitious bishops, priests and deacons ad honorary bishops and pastors of Roman churches and are “hinges” – Latin that gives us cardinal, and are the key, core advisers to the Pope. What does one expect US or EU bureaucrats and permanent civil servants who have their own layers of paralysed government. This same Canon priest said that level of bureaucrats “do not give a Sxxx about the Pope and manipulate an infirm one when they can.” No surprise, the apostles before Pentecost abandoned Jesus at the Cross, except for John, and unconverted bishops, laity and clergy are doing it still.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I am going to allow this to make a point. It’s gossip. I’m not concerned one way or the other with the fact that there are problems in the Vatican. But this is gossip.

    • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

      A few corrections. The layman banker called by Pope Benedict to straighten out IOR was the man I menioned, Dr.Gotti Tedeschi – the mistake may be due to the fact that “Tedeschi” means German. He is as Italian as I am. Unfortunately, what happened is what I described: Dr.Gotti Tedeschi was forced out in atrociously humiliating circumstances – a terrible blow for the reforming party. Yes, the middle Vatican bureaucracy is bad news, but it would not be as bad without enablers at high levels who are so shameless they can drive a papal appointee out like that.

  • FW Ken

    My priest quoted Pope Francis this morning, and in this quote is the solution to the curial problems:

    When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly: we may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.

    My wish is that all of us, after these days of grace, will have the courage, yes, the courage, to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Lord’s Cross; to build the Church on the Lord’s blood which was poured out on the Cross; and to profess the one glory: Christ crucified. And in this way, the Church will go forward.

    Father David just quoted the first part, but I think the whole thing is relevant. May God grant our Holy Father a large heart and a firm spine! He carries a cross with the weight of the world on it (literally).