The Malta Independent 17 August 2022, Wednesday

Could possible new Vatican post for Scicluna open way for new Archbishop for Malta?

Stephen Calleja Tuesday, 11 January 2022, 07:09 Last update: about 8 months ago

The possible promotion to a top Vatican position for Archbishop Charles Scicluna could lead to his being replaced as the head of the Maltese Church, sources told The Malta Independent.

On Monday, Pope Francis announced changes to the set-up of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which could signal an overhaul of one of the Vatican’s most important offices, responsible for the promulgating and defence of the Catholic doctrine.

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Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, 56, who served as CDF secretary, will be taking over the Reggio Emilia-Guastalla Diocese in Italy's Emilia-Romagna region. Morandi had served as secretary at the doctrinal office, the number two position within the Congregation, since 2015.

Scicluna could potentially take on the role that until now was occupied by Morandi, the sources said. The Maltese archbishop is highly-regarded in Vatican circles, having worked at the CDF for a decade as Promoter of Justice before being named as Malta’s archbishop in 2015. Scicluna has also been involved in some high-profile investigations into sexual abuse by members of the clergy, entrusted with the task personally by Pope Francis.

In 2012, he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to a renewable five-year term as a member of the CDF and, since 2018, Scicluna has served as one of two adjunct secretaries to the Congregation, a post given to him by Pope Francis.

The other adjunct secretary is Archbishop Augustine Di Noia from the United States. Scicluna has age in his favour to take up Morandi’s post. He is still 62, while Di Noia is 78, past the normal curial retirement age.

But there could be an even bigger move for the Maltese bishop. He is being named as a possible successor to the prefect of the CDF – the number one spot - in replacement of Cardinal Luis Ladaria.

Ladaria, 77, has himself passed the Vatican's traditional retirement age of 75. Later this year, the Spanish-born Jesuit will also have completed the customary five-year term for Vatican office heads, opening the way for his succession.

The potential promotion to one of the two top CDF posts for Scicluna could trigger the process for his replacement in Malta, the sources told The Malta Independent.

Scicluna could still remain as head of the church in Malta while occupying the post of prefect or secretary of the CDF, but his bigger responsibilities at the Vatican and the need to be in Rome more frequently could lead to him being succeeded at the Floriana Curia.

At present, Scicluna is assisted by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Galea Curmi, but it is not a given that the latter will be promoted to replace Scicluna.

Another possibility is that Scicluna remains Archbishop for a period of time even after his new appointment in Rome until a transition process for his successor is completed. It would be a similar process to that which saw then Gozo Bishop Mario Grech retain his position on the sister island before he took over as secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, with Anton Teuma then taking over as Bishop of Gozo. Grech went on to be named a cardinal by Pope Francis in 2020.

The potential nomination of Scicluna as prefect of the CDF will also give him a better chance to be appointed cardinal. Malta would then have two cardinals with voting rights for the next pope.

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