The Curia is getting an Asian look

The Curia is getting an Asian look

Pope Benedict’s latest curial appointments indicate that he is looking outside Europe and toward the East for people to surround himself with.

The new head of Propaganda Fide is Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias of Bombay to replace Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe. Vatican watcher Sandro Magister sees this as a significant choice.

As the new prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the pope has called an Indian, cardinal Ivan Dias, 70, who has been archbishop of Bombay for ten years, but before that served at the secretariat of state and as a diplomat in many countries, including Albania (his last diplomatic post), and before that South Korea, Ghana, Indonesia, and Sweden, without counting the dozens of countries he followed as a Vatican observer, including Russia, China, Vietnam, and South Africa. He has learned many languages, speaking eighteen fluently having some familiarity with others.

But even though this skill is very much adapted to his role, it is not the only reason why Benedict XVI chose him as the new prefect of “Propaganda Fide.” Much more influential was the fact that cardinal Dias, who has an excellent understanding of the Eastern religions, has never surrendered to that “relativism” of faiths that Ratzinger condemned in 2000 with the most important of his actions as the cardinal custodian of doctrine, the declaration “Dominus Iesus.”

And the other significant Asian appointment was the secretary for the Congregation for Divine Worship, Archbishop Malcom Ranjith from Sri Lanka, who has a similar traditional outlook on liturgy as the Pope, as well as a couple of others.

n his first public appearance – on April 27, see below – he came to the defense of the tradition orientation of the liturgical prayer of the clergy and faithful, and so also of the altar, to the East, against the practice that came in after the council of turning the altar to face the people. The new Vatican nuncio to Iraq, Francis Chullikat, is Indian. And China provides the most visible of the recently nominated cardinals, the combative bishop of Hong Kong, Joseph Zen Zekiun. Apart from Europe, pope Ratzinger has clearly placed Asia at the center of his religious geopolitics.

Magister also considers why the Holy Father might be looking toward Asia or might be finding men there who have a similar outlook, or more significantly, why he’s not finding them in Europe.

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