Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Another American Takes a Top Post at the Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI has made a key personnel change in the Roman Curia, appointing an American Dominican, Father Augstine DiNoia, as secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship. Father DiNoia-- who will become an archbishop as he assumes his new role-- replaces Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, who has been named Archbishop of Colombo in his native Sri Lanka.

The replacement of Archbishop Ranjith had been rumored for months. Hand-picked by Pope Benedict to take the #2 spot in the Congregation for Divine Worship in December 2005, the Sri Lankan prelate had become the focus of some controversy in Rome because of his outspoken stand against liturgical abuse and his clear sympathy for traditionalist Catholics. In December 2008 the Holy Father appointed Cardinal Antonio Canizares as prefect of the liturgical congregation. Because the Spanish cardinal is also firmly committed to the Pope's agenda for liturgical reform, that appointment was widely regarded as a sign that Archbishop Ranjith's presence in the Congregation for Divine Worship was no longer essential, and he would soon be moved to a new post.

In Sri Lanka, Archbishop Ranjith will lead the Church in the nation's capital, and face the challenge of restoring unity in the wake of the country's long civil war. Many Vatican-watchers suspect that he will be raised to the College of Cardinals at the next consistory, as a sign of the Pope's support. In Colombo he replaces Archbishop Oswald Gomis, who is retiring at the age of 76.

Archbishop-elect DiNoia, who joins the swelling ranks of American prelates in the top ranks of the Roman Curia, has been the undersecretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The 65-year-old native of New York had been called to Rome after a stint as the chief staff member for the US bishops' committee on doctrine.

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