Father Z: A few thoughts about changes to the Congregation for Bishops

A lot of you are asking by email my take on Pope Francis’ not confirming Card. Burke as a member of the Congregations for Bishops and for Saints.

The fact is that the members of these Congregations are routinely shifted around. Do I like the fact that Card. Burke and some others are no longer members? Not much, no. However, I don’t think it is wise to have a spittle-flecked nutty about it.

Some people are turning this into some sort of papal pogrom against conservative cardinals. I can’t rule that out. We could also look at it more benignly. After all, His Eminence Card. Burke is still young for a cardinal. He is still the Prefect of the Segnatura. He is still able to get on airplanes, etc. Having fewer meetings to go to also gives him more time to write and more flexibility to give conferences.

What could the changes in the membership of the Congregation for Bishops mean? Again, I am not pleased at the loss of Card. Burke’s or Card. Bagnasco’s voices therein. It has been suggested that the Pope wants the nominations of more progressive bishops. That may be the case. However, under Francis, “progressive” shan’t mean what it did back in the day. That is to say, today “progressive” may mean something like doctrinally orthodox but little inclined to be strong and vocal in matters of doctrine or discipline. It may be that the identikit of the bishop is shifting in this pontificate. It might mean “nice guy” rather than … you know. It could be that the men who are lassoed into the ranks of the episcopate will tend not to be bold “culture warriors” in the service of clear, traditional Catholic doctrine and discipline. I think we need bold “culture warriors”, but I wasn’t consulted. Furthermore, they will more than likely be pretty nearly squeaky clean, if you get me drift.
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