Pope Francis has his eye on the curia, his cabinet of appointees who advise him on church matters and presumably carry out his wishes — or maybe they do, and if they do not, have been known to face the consequences.
Fr. Hunwicke has examined and discussed the curia’s role down the centuries, noting various authority they have been said to have over the years. In this the third of his discussions, he points out some elements of the current situation.
Commentators have not been slow to remark that, to the outside observer, it looks as if the current pope is attempting to prevent or eliminate the existence of strong foci within the Curia. He seems to be incapable of working with any Head of Dicastery [department] who is not a yes-man. It is a sign, not of the Holy Father’s strength, but of his weakness, that he cannot collaborate with as gentle yet principled a man as Robert Sarah, without deeming it necessary to humiliate him before the world. And Sarah was one of his own appointments.
And he also appointed Raymond Burke to be Patron of the Order of Malta. But as soon as a problem arose in the Order, he humiliated and sidelined him. When you appoint people, you should either back them up when the going gets rough, or confess that you yourself erred in making the appointment.
[Another such,] Gerhard Mueller was inherited, not appointed, by Papa Bergoglio. But he confirmed him in office, and the position is a highly significant one. The current pope is neither learned nor intelligent. To run the CDF [Congregation for Defense of the Faith] he needed someone who was each of these things. Mueller was and is. First he humiliated him by sending Schoenborn to front the Amoris laetitia news conference; then by sacking three of his collaborators without even telling him; lastly, he has humiliated him yet again by dumping him with a minute’s notice and invoking a principle he had not mentioned either to Mueller or the World before: that Heads of Dicasteries will not be continued in post beyond their first quinquennium.
In other words, Francis has acted in high-handed, dictatorial manner with those who are presumably his trusted helpers.
Which makes a person wary about what’s to come as regards reorganization of this crucial element of papal government.