Cardinal Rigali Out of Top Vatican Committee

Former Philadelphia bishop has lost power.

The New York Times reports this morning that Philadelphia’s former top Catholic, Cardinal Justin Rigali, has been replaced on one of the Vatican’s most powerful committees, part of a broader shuffling of personnel.

The pope also removed Cardinal Justin Rigali, the former archbishop of Philadelphia, from the Congregation for Bishops. From his committee post, Cardinal Rigali has long been a crucial player in shaping the American hierarchy. He stepped down as archbishop of Philadelphia amid a scandal over his handling of priest abuse cases there.

How big a deal is this?

“The Congregation for Bishops is the most important congregation in the Vatican,” said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a Jesuit priest and the author of “Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church.”

“It decides who are going to be the bishops all over the world,” he added. “This is what has the most direct impact on the life of the local church.”

Philly-based Whispers in the Loggia blog has the big picture;

While a Franciscan “flush” of the membership of the Congregation for Bishops has been expected for months, the move’s execution came with a flourish at Roman Noon as the Pope reshuffled roughly half the prior makeup of the all-powerful “Thursday table” that recommends nominees for episcopal appointments in the developed world.