Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — Nine months after his election, Pope Francis has reconfirmed Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, seen as one of the most powerful offices of the Roman Curia, and expanded the international membership of the congregation.
Among the new members named Dec. 16 were Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington; Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England; Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega of Guadalajara, Mexico; and Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, Colombia.
The departing members of the congregation include U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signature, the church’s highest court; Cardinal Justin Rigali, retired archbishop of Philadelphia; and 70-year-old Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa, president of the Italian bishops’ conference.
Confirming Cardinal Ouellet as prefect Dec. 16, Pope Francis also confirmed 18 current members of the congregation, including Australian Cardinal George Pell of Sydney and U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Besides French Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris, the other 15 members reconfirmed are officials or recently retired officials of the Roman Curia.
Cardinal Ouellet, the 69-year-old the former archbishop of Quebec, was first appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 to head of the congregation that oversees the vetting and appointment of bishops for Latin-rite dioceses around the world.
Technically, all heads of Vatican congregations and councils lose their jobs at the end of a pontificate.
Just three days after his election in March, Pope Francis formally reconfirmed the prefects, presidents and secretaries of Vatican congregations and councils “donec aliter provideatur” (until otherwise provided), meaning for the time being. While temporary reappointments are normal at the beginning of a pontificate, the Vatican said the pope intended to take “time for reflection, prayer and dialogue before making any definitive appointments or confirmations.”
In September, Pope Francis confirmed German Archbishop Gerhard Muller as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, along with all the members and consultants of the congregation. He also confirmed Italian Cardinal Fernando Filoni as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and named Italian Archbishop Beniamino Stella to be the new prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. In late November, he confirmed Polish Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski as prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
The confirmation or appointment of prefects for the congregations for religious, saints’ causes, worship and Eastern churches have yet to be announced.