Pope could replace media spokesman Navarro-Valls

Among the rumours circulating around Rome is the suggestion that Fr Ciro Benedettini, current Vice President of the Vatican Press Office, could take over from the Office's current head, and long-time Papal Press Secretary, Joaquín Navarro-Valls.

Catholic Outsider, the blog of the US-based Catholic News Agency, reports that the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano could also have a new editor. It suggests that current longtime editor Mario Agnes could be replaced by Angelo Scelzo, Under Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications

Meanwhile Catholic News Service reports on the likelihood that as early as March, Pope Benedict XVI is expected to create his first batch of cardinals, a prospect that has already generated a buzz of excitement in Rome.

Vatican observers, especially journalists, tend to get overagitated when it comes to new cardinals. Since last summer, there have been at least three false alarms about impending consistories.

The current rumor is that the pope is preparing to name new cardinals in late February and invest them in late March. Holding a consistory during Lent would be unusual but not without precedent; Pope John XXIII did so twice in the 1960s.

The appointment of new cardinals is seen as a leading indicator of any papacy, but it's important to remember that, whenever Pope Benedict announces his choices, it will be a list that he has inherited in large part from his predecessor.

Of the 20 or so prelates most frequently mentioned as likely cardinal appointees, all but two were put in line for the red hat by Pope John Paul II. One of those two is Polish Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, the late pope's personal secretary, who in a sense will also be seen as a Pope John Paul selection.

Only US Archbishop William J. Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is considered a Pope Benedict appointee in this "likely cardinal" list.

Archbishop Levada is one of three Roman Curia officials virtually certain to be named cardinal. The others are Slovenian Archbishop Franc Rode, head of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and Italian Archbishop Agostino Vallini, head of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, the Vatican's highest tribunal.

Other Roman Curia possibilities include German Archbishop Paul Cordes, head of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum; US Archbishop John P. Foley, head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; and Polish Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, head of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

From the archdioceses around the world, potential cardinals include Archbishop Guadencio Rosales of Manila, Philippines; Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland; French Archbishops Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris and Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux; Archbishop Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, Italy; Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley of Boston; Archbishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong; Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi, Vietnam; Archbishop Raphael Ndingi Mwana'a Nzeki of Nairobi, Kenya; and Spanish Archbishop Antonio Canizares Llovera of Toledo.

Changes in communications at the Vatican? (Catholic Outsider 16/2/06)
New cardinals? Rome buzzes with excitement as rumors fly (Catholic News Service 16/2/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Vatican Information Service
L'Osservatore Romano - Weekly Edition in English
L'Osservatore Romano - Daily Version in Italian

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17 Feb 2006