Pope Francis has demoted an influential archbishop as he begins a shake-up of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
He has removed Archbishop Giacomo Morandi from his post as secretary of the CDF and appointed him diocesan Bishop of Reggio Emilia-Guastalla, Italy.
The archbishop, who will retain his episcopal rank “ad personam”, was seen as the driving force behind a statement by the CDF in March last year which ruled that the Catholic Church did not have the power to offer liturgical blessings to same-sex couples.
There is no evidence to suggest, however, that Archbishop Morandi was demoted because of his work on the statement.
Some Italian blogs have speculated instead that the Pope might have moved against Archbishop Morandi because he opposed the imposition of new restrictions against the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass.
Some of this was fuelled by a meeting between Archbishop Morandi and Pope Francis on December 18, the day when further restrictions against the Latin Mass were announced in a highly-controversial responsa to a dubia about Traditionis custodes, the Holy Father’s motu proprio limiting the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.
But Vatican sources told The Pillar website that his departure is not directly connected to the responsa, which introduced further restrictions – prompting questions about its legality – and that such speculation was “nonsensical”.
They say his move is most likely simply the first steps of a reshuffle which will allow the Pope to ultimately appoint Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta to the CDF and prepare him to take over as head of the dicastery when Jesuit Cardinal Luis Ladaria, the prefect who turns 78 in April, steps down from office.
One source said Morandi’s appointment was a way of “making room” at the CDF for the promotion of Archbishop Scicluna, an experienced canon lawyer and ally of the Pope, who at present serves as adjunct-secretary of the department.
It is generally agreed however that Archbishop Morandi was instrumental in the publication of the responsum ad dubium to a question about the legitimacy of liturgical blessings for same-sex couples.
The statement was signed by Cardinal Ladaria with the authority of Pope Francis only after Archbishop Morandi insisted that the matter was addressed in response to repeated calls by several German bishops for same-sex liturgical blessings.
Archbishop Morandi, a distinguished canon lawyer, joined the CDF as an under-secretary in 2015 and was promoted to secretary – the second highest position – just two years later.
His transfer suggests further management changes later this year not only at the CDF but in other curial departments too.
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