VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is once again flexing his papal
muscle by seeking to keep tabs on his cardinals who live in Rome.
asked the head of the College of Cardinals to remind his fellow Rome-based
princes that they must inform him when they leave town and where they’re going.
known if there was a particular cardinal whose activities irked the pope, but
some of his more conservative critics have delivered speeches and lectures
abroad that have questioned Francis’ pastoral line, particularly concerning his
divisive opening to letting civilly remarried Catholics receive the Sacraments.
Angelo Sodano reminded his confreres in a May 31 letter that there is a “noble
tradition” of cardinals informing the pope of their whereabouts. He asked that
they revive it, particularly when away from Rome for long periods.
Wednesday about the letter, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said merely that it
was a good and “long-standing tradition.”
request comes on the heels of an extraordinary display of papal power last
week, when he ordered all the priests of the Nigerian diocese of Ahiara to
write him a letter within 30 days pledging their obedience. Failure to do so,
he warned, would result in suspension.
ultimatum stemmed from the refusal of Ahiara’s priests to accept the 2012
appointment of a new bishop.
striking display of Francis’ papal power came late last year, when he took over
the Knights of Malta lay religious order. Francis intervened in the sovereign
order during a governance crisis, forcing the ouster of its leader and naming a
top Vatican official to help oversee the election of a new top knight and the
revision of the knights’ constitutions.
prided himself on the broad consultation and discernment process he engages in
before making decisions that is typical of a Jesuit superior. But like any good
Jesuit, he is also decisive and knows how to wield his authority.
In one of
his earliest interviews as pope, he acknowledged that he ran into trouble when
he was a young Jesuit superior in Argentina, where “my authoritarian and quick
manner of making decisions led me to have serious problems and to be accused of
Francis’ latest display of papal muscle comes as he and his cardinal advisers
wrapped up another round of consultations about decentralizing authority from
the Holy See to local churches. According to a Vatican statement Wednesday, the
three-day consultation touched on allowing local bishops’ conferences to make
decisions about ordaining permanent deacons as priests.