Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Interesting Update on All Things Vatican

From www.chiesa | The Keys of the Vatican. Nominations Foreseen, Promotions Discussed:

"John Paul II has been at his summer residence at Castelgandolfo since July 10, and has temporarily lightened up on his anti-Parkinson’s medication, as decided by his neurologists. The effects are noticeable: he has more difficulty in breathing and in speaking. But there’s less worry about his health inside the Vatican than outside.

Or rather, there’s really no worry at all. The current idea at the top levels of the Church is that Pope John Paul will last a good while longer. They believe that in March of 2004, he will gain the distinction of the second longest pontificate in history, apart from that of St. Peter, surpassing Leo XIII. They think that even the golden record of Pius IX, whose pontificate lasted 31 years and 7 months, is not beyond his reach.

Moreover, like Leo XIII during his last years, John Paul II doesn’t walk anymore. He gets around only in a wheelchair. For this reason, this year he has foregone his vacation in the mountains. There is a swimming pool at Castelgandolfo that the pope had built during his earlier years of rugged sportsmanship. He spends a few hours a week in it, in a special flotation device, to exercise his arms and legs. He is making only a few day trips to the mountains, the most recent being one to Gran Sasso on Thursday, July 24.

But both he and his supporting clerics continue to do everything according to routine. John Paul II has cancelled his planned visit to Mongolia, but has confirmed the one to Slovakia from September 11-14, his 102nd trip outside of Italy, and in recent days has put France on the list for next year.

Next October will be extremely intense for him. From the 16-18, the twenty-fifth anniversary of his election, the pope will have gathered around him, in Rome, allof the cardinals from around the world. He wants to hear their opinions about what has been accomplished during the past twenty-five years, and on the things still to be done. Immediately after, on the 19th, there will be the blockbuster beatification of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Apart from all this, John Paul II is preparing a series of nominations of the highest importance, in the Vatican and beyond, to all appearances as if he intended to govern for a long time. A consistory for the nomination of new cardinals has been planned for next February. And half a dozen of the highest-placed leaders will vanish from the scene, having reached the age limits of their offices.

One of these is the cardinal Secretary of State, Angelo Sodano. He would gladly give up his position to the ambitious and hyperactive prefect of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, Crescenzio Sepe. But his real successor will probably be the current prefect for the Congregation for Bishops, Giovanni Battista Re, whom the pope favors and who has the full support of the pope’s powerful secretary, Stanislaw Dziwisz.

Another major figure about to leave is Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the head of the Holy Office, who should be replaced by his right-hand man, archbishop Angelo Amato, a specialist in Asian religions and one of the principal drafters of the declaration “Dominus Iesus.”

The Vatican foreign minister, Jean-Louis Tauran, is also on his way out, for health reasons. His successor will likely be Claudio Maria Celli, a leading expert on China and the East and the present secretary of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See."