By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jun 07, 2018
The past few weeks have brought several positive signs from Rome:
- The Chilean bishops resigned as a group after meeting with Pope Francis, thereby raising hopes that the Holy Father is finally following up strong statements with strong action against bishops who cover up abuse.
- In a talk with Italian bishops, the Pope showed further evidence of a new attitude, with a reminder that homosexuals should not be admitted to seminaries.
- The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued his own reminder that women cannot be ordained to the priesthood, and that teaching can never change.
- And the CDF, with the Pope’s approval, instructed the German bishops not to proceed with a new policy on intercommunion.
Each one of these new developments left some questions unanswered. (We don’t know how the Pope will react to the Chilean resignations, for instance; and the message to the German bishops could be read as “not yet” rather than simply “no.”) But at worst, these stories were not bad news for orthodox Catholics who have been shell-shocked by previous developments in Rome. Taken together, the welcome news items prompted both Jeff Mirus and myself to wonder aloud whether perhaps Pope Francis was shifting his sights. That question, too, remains unanswered—and is reason (as Jeff observed) for faithful Catholics to redouble their prayers.
However, to keep things in the proper perspective, it’s only fair to remark that there are also reasons to be discouraged about developments—or the absence of developments—at the Vatican. Casual readers may not have noticed, but…
Almost a full year ago (one week from today it will be exactly a year), the Vatican’s auditor general, Libero Milone, abruptly resigned. Milone was rushed out of office amid a flurry of charges and counter-charges. No full explanation was ever provided, but it seems that top Vatican officials decided that Milone was exceeding his authority, although he had been promised “full autonomy and independence” to do his work. The Vatican announced that a replacement would be found “as soon as possible.”
So are we to understand that it is not “possible” to find a competent auditor in the space of a year? Or, more likely, that no one capable of doing the job would accept it under the existing conditions?
Milone’s sudden departure is part of a larger pattern, in which the Secretariat for the Economy—created to bring accountability to Vatican finances—has been effectively gutted: