Highest Levels Blocked Marini’s Appointment

After Pope Francis’ election, rumors abounded that Francis would make Piero Marini the head of the CDW. Traditionalists were concerned and progressives were practically giddy. Traditionalists said it was a long shot, but apparently the rumors were spot on.

From the Rome desk, covered by Fr. Anthony who is on sabbatical there for a month:

I have learned that Pope Francis had pretty much decided to appoint Piero Marini to the CDW post. But this was opposed by the very highest levels of the previous administration, and Francis relented out of respect for his predecessor.

So now you know. Marini, the champion of the progressive left and the cause of fear among the traditional right, was practically confirmed as the head of the CDW until vestiges of Benedict’s papacy ensured he would be passed over.

Of course the story is much ado about nothing at this point, since the new head of the CDW has been installed. However, perhaps this will provide closure to those who are still lamenting the fact that Marini was passed over for the job despite the rumors to the contrary.


      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #2:
        Yes, and the idea that he was willing to listen to others and change his mind, suggests the makings of someone whom can eventually get all the oars pulling in the same direction, more or less. Now if they will reciprocate and cut him a little slack… I fear that he is viewed by some quarters as Obama is by the Republicans.

  1. Ha! Fr Anthony, I laughed out loud on that one!

    Does “highest level” mean that B16 himself weighed in?

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #9:
        This wouldn’t perchance have anything to do with the fact that Cardinal Sarah has just gone to France and is making sweeping statements about the liturgy for the first time since being appointed prefect of CDW? (Just today, he said that “Vatican II never demanded… that the Mass of St. Pius V be abandoned”)
        Are you sure this isn’t your way of saying “don’t worry about Sarah, Francis really wanted Marini. Marini is in line with Francis’ thinking, not Sarah. ”
        Personally, I find it hard to believe that Francis couldn’t have Marini so he appointed someone who is pretty much Marini’s opposite.

      2. @Stanislaus Kosala – comment #15:
        I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s Marini’s opposite. This is overblown. Based on one interview, in which he made two statements, about the liturgy wars and what Benedict wanted? Please.

        Look online. There is not a single photo of him celebrating the EF or dressed in antique vestments. He was supposed to address an EF group of pilgrims in Rome and withdrew, he never did it.

        The fact is, we know very little about Cardinal Sarah’s sense of liturgy, except that he seems to be 100% an OF celebrant. And even if he adored the EF, what else is new? Canizares, Ranjith, Arinze, and Medina all adored the EF, all were photographed celebrating the older rites, all promoted them and gushed over them! So… if anything, Sarah is a move away from this.

      3. @Rita Ferrone – comment #16:
        I should have been clearer. I mean the exact opposite in terms of that statement “Vatican II never demanded that the Mass of St. Pius V be abandoned.” I think that this is a statement that is completely opposed to Marini’s orientation. (there are others in the interview)

        I would also like to make the following points:
        1. Cardinal Sarah appeared at the publication event of the proceedings of the Sacra Liturgia Conference which promoted the reform of the reform. (Alcuin Reid was one of the main organizers of this event and himself was present there)
        2. Sarah seems close to the French Community of St. Martin which is very reform of the reform. (Cardinal Siri was one of its founders)
        3. Sarah has decried liturgical deviations which occurred as a result of misinterpretation of the spirit of the council.
        4. Looking at google, his vestments aren’t over the top (a la burke) but they sure do look fancier than what I see in the states.
        5. Cardinal Arinze wasn’t enamored with the EF.

        The conference in Paris is still young, so maybe we’ll see more of Sarah’s views before the week is out…

  2. Fr. Ruff, from your own words, it remains speculative and only an inference as to whether B16 actually had any hand in this outcome whatsoever. (Unless you have more information to dispense.) Curial officials from the “previous administration” exerting influence upon HHF also doesn’t suggest direct intervention by B16 just because they were “of” his papacy. POTUS Obama kept Bob Gates as Sec’ty of Defense from GWBush’s administration and no one inferred anything untoward.

  3. I think there’s a mistake in the opening of the post: “After Pope Francis’ appointment, . . . ” Shouldn’t that be “election” rather than “appointment”?

    On the substance of the post itself . . .

    The phrase that comes to my mind is “pick your battles”. Francis seems to have decided that he did not want to rock that particular boat, knowing perhaps what other boats he’d be rocking soon enough.

    And maybe I’ve spent too much time in Washington DC and similar places, but when an unnamed source speaks of the “very highest levels of the previous administration,” I’d be fairly confident in guessing that the source is not talking about a deputy or assistant of some kind. There’s only one who is the “very highest” in that previous administration.

    1. @Peter Rehwaldt – comment #10:
      Exactly, Peter – “very highest” means “very highest.” Others here either don’t know what that means or else don’t want to believe it.

  4. Here I was thinking that Sandro Magister was the highest level of the previous administration.

  5. Last time we discuss this, it was kinda suggested it was not entirely serious, and perhaps to be filed under “wit”.

    Is that still the case, or is this purporting to be breaking “news” (well, Papally disapproved gossip, but close enough)?

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #28:

        Excellent. Good to hear the, ah, “highest levels of the previous administration” are listened to by the “highest levels of the current administration” on these questions.

        This is certainly of major import in understanding the Pope’s views towards the liturgy, and his acceptance of more conservative influences. Particularly as compared to much of the triva in which so much stock has been placed recently.

  6. One more thing, it seems that in his new book, Cardinal Sarah decries novelties and experimentation in the liturgy and praises Ratzinger’s book “Spirit of the Liturgy.” He is also visiting a parish in Paris tomorrow where the extraordinary form is celebrated.

  7. I think the higher source for the selection of Cardinal Sarah, whoever nixed the Marini, is the Holy Spirit. It is good to hear for the first time some of the liturgical theology of this Prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship. He desires reconciliation between those who are entrenched in either the EF or OF forms of the one Latin Rite as Pope Benedict and his successor have described it, Pope Francis having done so rather recently which was really the big news of that off-the-cuff presentation he gave to the priests of Rome.

    But this reconciliation has to be also in the manner of how the two forms of the one Roman Rite are celebrated with the OF’s reconciliation to its predecessor, the EF Mass in terms of sacrality and reverence of style. This sounds a bit like, shall I say it, the “reform of the reform” will continue under Cardinal Sarah, Pope Francis’ pick for the CDW or better yet, “reform in continuity.” I like it!

    Quibbling about styles of vestments is really a straw man. An EF Mass can be celebrated with very simple Gothic vestments as can an OF with ornate Roman ones. So what?

  8. Some thoughts from the old man at the corner table at Da Roberto’s on the Borgo Pio (we’re saving you a chair, Father Anthony!):

    1. Given the great influence the last Prefect of CDW (what was his name again?) and the present MC have had on Pope Francis’ liturgical praxis and “style,” the appointment of Cardinal Sarah is surely a matter of monumental import. Who wouldn’t want the title and office rather than the Pope’s ear?

    2. Here and across the Catholic blogosphere, it has been very edifying to see commenters so respectful of the previous holder of the Petrine Office steadfast in their ecclesial devotion toward the present holder.

    3. Likewise edifying: how eager the proponents of the EF are to be mutually enriched by the OF (and vice versa) just as Pope Benedict prophetically envisioned in what will surely be an important element in his legacy (Summorum Pontificum). Similarly prescient was another part of that legacy, Anglicanorum coetibus, with his vision for the enrichment the Anglican Patrimony would bring to the Roman Church, at least as communicated through the solid scholarship and sound ecclesial sense communicated by its most prominent priest blogger. After all, mutual respect for each other’s preferred Form flows naturally from mutual respect for each other.

    4. Finally, how infinitely gracious of the Holy Spirit so silently and patiently to bear the blame for the self-serving machinations of the most venal ecclesiastical politicians. A lesser Person would …. well, would not.

  9. Might be of interest to read this interview excerpt:
    “Cardinal Robert Sarah: The Second Vatican Council never asked for the rejection of the past and the abandonment of the Mass of Saint Pius V, that formed so many saints, not even to leave Latin behind. But it is necessary at the same time to promote the liturgical reform willed by the Council itself. The liturgy is the place granted [to us] to meet God face to face, rendering Him all our life, our work; and make of all of this an offering to his glory. We cannot celebrate the liturgy by arming ourselves: by putting on our backs the weaponry of hatred, of struggle, of rancor. Jesus Himself said it: “Before presenting your offer, first reconcile yourself with your brother.” In this “face to face” with God, our heart must be pure, free from all hatred, from all rancor. Each one must eliminate from his heart that which might cast a shadow over this encounter. This implies that each one be respected in his sensibility.

    [Q.] Is this not precisely what Benedict XVI desired?

    Cardinal Sarah: Yes, this is the meaning of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. Benedict XVI spent considerable energy and hope in this undertaking. Alas, he did not succeed completely, because ones and others have “clutched” to their rite by excluding themselves mutually. In the Church, each one must be able to celebrate according to his sensibility. It is one of the conditions for the reconciliation. It is also necessary to bring people to the beauty of the liturgy, to its sacrality. The Eucharist is not a “meal among mates”, it is a sacred mystery. If we celebrate it with beauty and fervor, we will reach a reconciliation, this is clear. Nevertheless, it cannot be forgotten that it is God who reconciles, and that will take time.

    [Source: Aleteia, in French. Tip: Le Forum Catholique.]

    1. @Charles Culbreth – comment #25:
      Cardinal Sara’s comments on the abandonment of the Mass of Pius V are absurd in the extreme. His claim is patently false, as a simple reading of the liturgy constitution shows.

      When the council fathers laid out all the various ways the liturgy (of Pius V) was to be reformed, or more properly, laid out all the broad principles with just a few specifics, they surely thought this would all be applied to the liturgy of Pius V, and what would be left would be the liturgy of the church. If he is claiming that the fathers intended that the unreformed liturgy would continue in use along side a reformed liturgy, I very much would like to know what passage in the liturgy constitution he would point to to support this claim.


  10. Anthony Ruff, OSB : @Charles Culbreth – comment #25: If he is claiming that the fathers intended that the unreformed liturgy would continue in use along side a reformed liturgy, I very much would like to know what passage in the liturgy constitution he would point to to support this claim. awr

    I read him to mean that the Council’s call for reform nowhere includes the creation of a new order of Mass – the reforms were meant to adapt the “missal of Pius V,” not create a new. Or, in other words, I took the Cardinal to be saying the same thing you just did, except that he is pointedly targeting those who understand the Council to have called for a rupture (abandonment) or believe the Novus Ordo must be celebrated in opposition to the Missal that did in fact get “abandoned” by being replaced.

    1. @Aaron Sanders – comment #32:
      Yeah, I thought of that option – but that would mean he is critiquing, almost attacking Paul VI, and disagreeing with the statement on the first page of every missal that the reformed liturgy was reformed in accord with the Second Vatican Council. That would be a very serious charge for a cardinal to make.

  11. Rita Ferrone : @Charles Culbreth – comment #25: A point of order: The source being quoted here is Rorate Coeli.

    Are you questioning their ability to translate the French? Or are you suggesting that they would falsify the published text of the interview? The Francophone can read the original if that resolves any of your parliamentary misgivings:

    1. @Aaron Sanders – comment #34:
      Aaron, Aaron, keep your shirt on! I said it was a point of order. If you give a secondary source you should say so. Do you spend the whole day getting indignant over trifles like this? It’s not good for your health.

      1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #39:
        As the source was already cited by the time I got to the thread, I was left to wonder what order may have been violated. Don’t worry. I spend most of my day getting indignant over dissimilar trifles; PTB indignation is reserved for my free time.

    2. @Aaron Sanders – comment #34:
      I wonder if Rita may be questioning the ecclesial good faith, to say nothing of the good will, of a blog that calls itself “Traditional Catholic” but then includes in its “Blog Roll” links to such vile blogs as Eponymous Flower and, God help us all, Mundabor.

      Many quite conservative friends around here, who sympathize with His Eminence on many levels, have expressed their astonishment (and noted that they are not alone, speaking of “the highest sources”) that Cardinal Raymond Burke should have recently granted an “Exclusive Interview” to Rorate Coeli, when a click from links listed on their website can lead you to one blog whose comment box refers to the Holy Father as the “unbelieving Jew Rabbi Bergoglio” (Eponymous Flower) and to another whose proprietor regularly refers to Pope Francis as “the Unholy Father,” and “TMAHICH: The Most Astonishing Hypocrite In Church History,” whilst also suggesting that the Pope was drunk when he granted an interview to the late Anglican Bishop Tony Palmer and then, “Pope Francis, of whom the kindest thing that can be said is that he might, actually, be on drugs” (Mundabor).

      Best make your references only the French source, presuming they’re less vile.

  12. In appointing Cardinal Sarah as Prefect of CDW, Pope Francis is being very “traditional”, at least in the Roman sense of that word: like his predecessors (all or most?), Sarah seems not to have undertaken any formal advanced scholarly work in liturgical or sacramental theology. Those who think such credentials a positive (or at least not a negative) might consider that this approach is roughly equivalent to entrusting the ongoing maintenance and smooth running of your car to someone whose automotive experience consists in having had a driver’s license since age 16 (from Sarah’s CV, it appears he was named a Metropolitan Archbishop not long after his Confirmation!).

    It’s an old Roman joke that the requirements for holding a Curial Prefecture are two: a pulse and a career. Perhaps, that is one reason Pope Francis has said several times that his key to reforming the Curia is working on the conversion of hearts.

  13. Fr. Anthony,
    I just reprinted it as it seems somewhat germane to the excellent comments of XR. However, have you made a wholesale dismissal of the entire comments simply based upon the time and intent of the council? I understand that premise, but the cardinal seems to be thinking of a much longer continuum, along the lines of Trent to Summorum Pontificum, no? The other commentary is theologically and liturgically rich and sound as well, IMO. So, should they also be dismissed because a simple reading of CSL proves P5 missal was expressly to be reformed?

  14. Hi Rita, point of order taken. But, I am not a Francophone, and RC did provide original source. I had no ulterior motive to not disclose the secondary source, I hope you understand.

  15. It is one thing to assert that the reforms called for and authorized by all but four council fathers did not challenge the validity of the former rite. From Trent to Vatican II the “Missal of Pius V” proscribed the manner in which the Church prayed as it believed. Blessed Paul VI implemented the reforms which necessarily resulted in a new version of the Roman Missal. As with all previous versions of the RM, its promulgation clearly includes the effective abrogation of its predecessor. Not the invalidation of the prior missal but proscription of its usage. Benedict made very clear in the unprecedented letter to the bishops which accompanied the Motu Propio SP what his intent was. It was not to introduce rupture into the Roman Rite much less launch a new era of criticism of the Missal of Paul VI. I accept the fact that a very tiny but vocal percentage of Catholics wish either that the Mass had never been changed and prefer some imaginary way in which the rite might have been more “legitimately” reformed. Aren’t there plenty of other blogs for those conversations?

  16. #16 by Rita Ferrone

    “Look online. There is not a single photo of him celebrating the EF or dressed in antique vestments.”

    By “antique vestments”, do you mean in the sense that the Church is, if you will, “antique”? That is, Holy Mother Church is “antique” but forever young and vigorous.

    It that sense, Her traditional Roman Mass (EF) is “antique” but forever alive, well and very much a part of the Church’s daily life.

    Her EF-related vestments are “antique”…yet fresh, appealing to many young Catholics and very much a part of the Church’s daily vigorous life.

    Peace to you.

    Tom Edwards

  17. Isn’t this article essentially an exercise in gossip, which of course Pope Francis so frequently judges as a real blight. Sorry to sound holier than thou, but I don’t think these articles do a lot of good.

    1. @Hal Adams – comment #48:
      The proper and delicious Italian word Pope Francis uses for this type of thing, meaning gossip or rumor, is “chiacchiere” one of my favorite Italian words. And yes, Pope Francis has condemned this numerous times in his papacy!

  18. Yeah, it’s a fine line between news and gossip, and this thought also crossed my mind. But I decided that this stuff is pretty clearly on the side of news. And then I read the Italian newspapers and I have no doubts about that! 🙂

  19. Why are we being so elliptical about “highest levels of the previous administration”?

    If Pope Emeritus Benedict intervened in this appointment, directly or indirectly, that seems to contradict his various statements about turning to a life of prayer and reflection after his resignation. As I recall, he even made some fairly strong statements about not being involved, living like a contemplative monk, etc.

    Are we entering a regime with two popes?

  20. If it prevented the return of Piero, I am sure it was not Benedict but the Holy Spirit, Who was probably sick of guitars and other terrible music.

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