Age of Vatican officials fuels talk of Curia overhaul
With several leading Vatican officials are already beyond the normal retirement age, Pope Benedict XVI is expected to make major changes in the Roman Curia sometime in the near future.
Catholic World News reports that Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, celebrated his 75th birthday yesterday. In accordance with canon law, he has therefore submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news). Pope Benedict is free to accept the French cardinal's resignation as he wishes.
Cardinal Poupard, who has served in the Roman Curia since 1980, has held his current post since 1988 - longer than any other head of a Vatican dicastery. He and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican archivist, are the only French cardinals now serving in the Curia.
Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, the prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, will celebrate his own 75th birthday on 18 September, causing another potential vacancy in the Roman Curia.
However, several leading Vatican officials are already beyond the normal retirement age. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Secretary of State for nearly 15 years, is 77. Cardinal Edmund Szoka, governor of the Vatican city-state, will be 78 in September. Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, is 76.
Other important officials are closing in on retirement age. Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants, will be 75 in March. Cardinal Julian Herranz, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts - the body responsible for interpretation of canon law - will turn 75 next July.
Shortly after his election, Pope Benedict re-appointed all of the heads of Vatican offices, whose mandates had automatically lapsed with the death of Pope John Paul II . But the Pope is expected to make changes in the Roman Curia sometime in the near future, and the age of several important prelates will be a factor in his decisions.
Before he became Roman Pontiff, Cardinal Ratzinger spoke about the need for a reform of the Curia. He might use the resignations of some prelates as an opportunity to change the duties of the offices they have headed, or to merge existing dicasteries with other Vatican agencies.
Vatican-watchers speculate that the Holy Father could make important changes in the Roman Curia during the month of September. The new Vatican leaders appointed by Pope Benedict could then be ex officio participants in the Synod on the Eucharist, which will be held in Rome during the month of October.
Age of Vatican officials fuels talk of Curia overhaul (Catholic World News 30/8/05)
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Pope shifting roles of Vatican offices (CathNews 28/7/05)
31 Aug 2005