Archbishop Piero Marini’s veiled swipes at Benedict XVI show how urgent Curial reform is

Archbishop Marini: 'The Council is not behind us. It still precedes us' (PA)

Years ago I remember Alice Thomas Ellis, fabled columnist for this paper and the Spectator, putting aside the newspaper and saying “I get so cross!” Indeed reading the papers can cause you blood pressure problems. Luckily for Anna, as we all knew her, there were other things in the papers that could induce a mood of almost seraphic calm. “I love that man,” she once told me. And when I asked who, I was surprised to see her pointing to a picture of the then Cardinal Ratzinger. “I just love him,” she said. The only other person who approached the cardinal in her fervent admiration was the actor Charles Dance, though perhaps for not entirely the same reasons.

Anyway, back to reading the papers. Sadly, while I try to read as many papers as possible, I do not read La Nacion, which is published in Costa Rica. This I am sure is my fault, not the fault of La Nacion. And if it had not been for the editor of the Catholic Herald flagging it up in his essential Morning Catholic must-reads, I might quite have missed its interview with Archbishop Piero Marini, which can be read here, as reported by the National Catholic Reporter.

The archbishop, you may remember, used to be the master of ceremonies to the Blessed Pope John Paul II; he now is charged with organising Eucharistic Congresses around the world, which is doubtless a very important job. His comments about civil unions do not bother me overmuch. What does bother me is the way his comments can be interpreted as not very veiled sideswipes at Benedict XVI.

But perhaps the archbishop has been misquoted, or his remarks taken out of context? Or is he the victim of poor translation? The following sentences suggest that English is perhaps not the first language of whoever translated this: “I remember we were at World Youth Day in the Philippines, when John Paul II celebrated my 52nd birthday. I had never before blown the candles on a cake, and he brought together a number of people for me to celebrate.”

The original interview is published here and those whose Spanish is better than mine can perhaps see if the archbishop’s original words are more measured. Otherwise, one would really like to have some clarification from the archbishop. What exactly was he hoping to achieve by these remarks?

It is universally agreed that the Curia Romana needs reform. To my mind, this interview is proof of how urgent that need for reform is.