According to a person who worked at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “in the choice to move Archbishop Morandi, some gossip about his conservative positions may have weighed, too. I doubt it, however. Morandi has never been confrontational, and he has always kept a low profile. And he has never been disloyal to the pope.”
This observation suggests there are other reasons for the transfer.
The first reason: Morandi had finished his five-year term as secretary of the Congregation, which he had entered seven years ago as undersecretary. He, therefore, went beyond the five-year mandate, and Pope Francis decided not to keep him in the post to give the Congregation a new profile. One of the reforms advocated by the pope is to have no high-profile Vatican officials in office for more than two five-year terms. The Pope has been applying this unwritten norm for some time now. The norm should formally appear in the upcoming Curia reform.
The second reason lies in the very nature of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Congregation was called “the Supreme” and considered the most important of the Congregations. Established in 1542 as the “Sacred Universal Congregation of the Holy Inquisition,” it was reorganized in 1908 as the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office by Pius X. Paul VI, in 1965, changed its name to the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. Until 1968, the prefect of the Congregation was the pope. From that date on, the prefect is the cardinal placed at the head of the Congregation.
There is a reasonably widespread rumor in the Vatican that Pope Francis would like to formally resume the leadership of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and that this decision to return to the past will be contained in the draft reform of the Curia now under discussion.
The reform should also contain a reform of the competencies of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Already in Evangelii Gaudium, considered by the pope to be his programmatic manifesto, Pope Francis made reference to the chaos of transferring some competencies of the Congregation to the Episcopal Conferences.
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