Tue, Mar 05, 2013 - Page 9 News List

The new pope’s challenges

An obstructionist Vatican, a chronic shortage of priests and a shrinking global congregation: the list is daunting

By Andrew Brown  /  The Guardian, LONDON

The problem of the curia is different in nature. The central administration of the Vatican is plagued by corruption allegations and obstructionism. It functions too much like the rest of Italy. A pope of enormous energy, willpower and administrative experience would be needed to clean it out. Yet this, too, may be inevitable, as the VatiLeaks scandal showed. The Italian model of politics does not even work in Italy. You cannot run a global organization on those principles.

Any loosening of central control would also be fraught with dangers for the church’s coherence. A liberal reformer might suffer the fate of a Gorbachev and be swept aside by the forces he unleashed.

It is likely that the reform of the curia would be the priority of any non-Italian European, such as Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Austria. However, it is doubtful the electors have any great enthusiasm for the task.

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