Three days after its current head gave an unprecedented American TV interview to defend the dicastery's history on the matter, the news is significant given the CDF's role in handling the cases of clergy credibly accused of sex-abuse and their dismissal from ministry, confinement to lives of prayer and penance or empaneling ecclesiastical tribunals where doubt exists. These competencies have been exercised in some 3,000 cases since, at the behest of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the congregation was given the task in 2001.
In addition, the timing is intriguing -- as prefect, the now-pontiff devoted this day of the week to poring over the abuse files referred to the Congregation, referring to the reading as his "Friday penance."
Benedict last visited the CDF on the day following his 2005 election to the papacy to offer an emotional "farewell" to his longtime staff. This time, according to the note, the main purpose of the trek is to bless the Congregation's chapel after a recent renovation.
That said, a speech is likewise expected... more as it comes in.
SVILUPPO: As of midnight Rome time (6pm Eastern), no text of the Pope's "words of greeting" to the CDF staff has emerged.
As no public or semi-private utterance of the pontiff's goes unreleased by the Holy See, the lack of a report would appear to indicate an extemporaneous greeting, its transcript to be released on its completion. Either that, or the evening simply ran long -- the Press Office isn't necessarily known for an all-hours schedule.
On a related note, today likewise saw a meeting at which the five Apostolic Visitators for the Legionaries of Christ presented their final reports for B16's decision on the controversial community, its future imperiled by numerous revelations of gross moral and financial impropriety on the part of its late founder, Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado, who was barred from ministry and assigned to a restricted life of prayer and penance by the CDF in 2006.
As the day progressed, the Sala Stampa director relayed that, on his own initiative, Benedict "decided to stop by and greet" the meeting's participants.