In the last few weeks, important changes have been taking place in the heart of the most powerful dicastery of the Holy See: the Secretariat of State—also known as the “Terzia loggia” in Rome—where Cardinal Piero Parolin, a faithful collaborator of Pope Francis, reigns.
Fabio Marchese Ragona, the Vaticanist at Il Giornale, sees in these summer changes a sign of a “change of rhythm” and “readjustment,” desired jointly by Cardinal Parolin and Pope Francis.
Transfers currently concern two key posts: the first is that of the Administrative Office, presented as the “strongbox” of the Secretariat of State. And for good reason: the head of this curial office is an ex-officio member of several Boards of Directors, including that of the pension funds of the Vatican, and that of Bambino Gesu Hospital, not to mention the Joseph Ratzinger Foundation.
Since 2009, this function, as discreet as it is important, was exercised by Bishop Alberto Perlasca, appointed at that time by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State under the previous pontificate.
On July 26, 2019, Bishop Perlasca learned of his transfer to the court of the Apostolic Signatura, where in the future he will exercise the Office of Promoter of Justice: which is far from being a promotion, in view of his previous mission. In his place was appointed a Lithuanian prelate who should take office in a few months.
The second key position concerned is that of the Information and Documentation Office (UID), a powerful presence at the heart of Vatican communications, since it acts as a belt-drive between the Secretariat of State and the Secretariat for Communications on which depend, among others, the Vatican News platform and the Holy See press room.
Until now, the job of the head of the UID office was exercised by Mgr. Carlo Maria Polvani: this Prelate of Honor of His Holiness is the nephew of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former apostolic nuncio to the United States who became the first accuser of Pope Francis regarding his management of child abuse cases in America.
Demoted to adjunct under-secretary at the Pontifical Council for Culture, Mgr. Polvani succeeds Mgr. Mauro Carlino, a close associate of the former Substitute for General Affairs, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who became Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Finally, more anecdotal, Cardinal Parolin dismissed the one who has hitherto served as the personal secretary to the Secretary of State, Mgr. Robert Murphy.
The latter will be able to discover and taste the inexhaustible riches of Sanskrit, since he has been named to go to India, with the title of Advisor to the Nunciature—a way of illustrating the Roman adage “promoveatur ut moveatur”?
The Secretary of State has not finished with the changes, says Fabio Marchese Ragona—undertaken without restraint, they risk giving more credence to the image of a “dictator pope,” painted with vitriol by Henri Sire in his eponymous book.
An image that the current pontificate would like to get rid of: it will not happen this summer, in any case.