Family Reunion, Fire Sale
But away from public view, possibly at the Arciprete, possibly at Schotte's old place on the Via della Conciliazione, the real action is taking place over a bottle of Brunello and some chamomile tea.
The Pro is on a long (i.e. seven day) weekend. And with the trusty Re ever at his side, the "all appointments must go" strategy to pick the next crop of American bishops is being worked out, in the hope that B16 is too excited about Cologne to interfere by having Georg ask for the case files. He's only the Pope, after all.
This could well be the last hurrah for the team which has held sway over practically every American appointment since Roger Mahony was sent to Los Angeles in 1985, the team which recently suffered a massive blow when they couldn't save their beloved Secretariat of State from the Ratzinger who is determined to emasculate it and once and for all undo the Pauline organization which made it la suprema -- the clearinghouse of the church's central administration. (Of course, the vacuum will be filled by the cons' favorite, Archbishop Levada, and our friends at the CDF.)
Complicating this further is the impending appointment of a new SegStat. As if it wasn't bad enough that the State boys disappeared off the San Damaso balcony as soon as they heard the name "Ratzinger," then Sodano -- il cardinale-decano chi non diventara' Papa -- had to shoot himself in the foot by authorizing the note to the Legionaries of Christ declaring that no juridical process was foreseen against his beloved Marcel Maciel.
There are two schools of thought on Sodano's succession. The first is that Re will be called back to the top job, which will be the cause of much festiveness among the First Section (General Affairs), from which Re hails and in which he thrived as one of the famous widows of Benelli back in the 70s, wrapping up a decade's run as Sostituto in late 2000. The upshot of this move is that the Pope would get his own guy in at Bishops, whose work he sees as a pre-eminent priority.
But another theory has sprung up, and it'd be a true surprise.
John Paul's favorite State staffer of all was the long-time Secretary for Relations with States, Jean-Louis Tauran. The late Pope's immense appreciation for the 62 year-old Frenchman was expressed when he placed Tauran as the first creation of his last consistory. Moved to the relatively low-maintenance post of Librarian and Archivist due to an early onset of Parkinson's, Tauran's health rendered him a nonentity in pre-interregnum chattering circles which focused on the future of State.
But reports from Rome are signaling that he can't yet be counted out, a nod which would completely shut the Italians out of the top tier (Pope, SegStat, CDF) for the first time in memory. It seems he's up to the task -- it'd be the Curial equivalent of Lazarus rising.
Suffice it to say, it's all worth watching.