On Saturday April 21, a little more than two months after the last consistory, the new cardinals were finally assigned their positions as members of the various dicasteries of the Roman curia, the most important of which are the nine congregations.
This procedure indicates the real and specific influence of each cardinal in assisting Benedict XVI in the governance of the universal Church.
The most prestigious congregation of the Roman curia is the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, to which three of the new cardinals have been appointed: the Indian George Alencherry, the leading archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, and the Italian curia members Fernando Filoni, prefect of "Propaganda Fide," and Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the pontifical council for legislative texts.
But the congregations with the greatest influence in the life of the Catholic Church are those that assist the pope most closely in the selection of new bishops. And these are the congregation for bishops (for the dioceses of Europe and the Americas, the Philippines and Australia), for the Eastern Churches (for Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and India), and for the evangelization of peoples (for the dioceses in mission territory, above all in Africa and Asia).
Four of the new cardinals, all of them from the curia, have been selected as members of the congregation for bishops. They are the Portuguese Manuel Monteiro de Castro, until January the secretary of this same dicastery and now the major penitentiary, the Spaniard Santos Abril y Castelló, archpriest of the basilica of Saint Mary Major, and the Italians Giuseppe Bertello, president of the governorate of Vatican City, and Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the prefecture of economic affairs of the Holy See.
All four of these churchmen, and Versaldi in particular, are highly esteemed by Cardinal Bertone. Monteiro, Abril, and Bertello have been apostolic nuncios. Abril and Bertello have also been appointed as members of "Propaganda Fide."
Bertello and Versaldi, like Bertone and Giovanni Lajolo, who are already members, come from Piedmont, bringing to four the number of members who come from this region of Italy and making it the one most represented in the congregation for bishops, followed by Liguria with two members.
In this dicastery, headed by the Canadian Marc Ouellet, out of 33 members, 29 of whom are cardinals and four bishops, the Italians are ten in all, with eight cardinals and two bishops. The other nations most represented are the United States with four, Germany and Spain with three, and France and Poland with two.
New senators in the curia. A ranking (www.chiesa)