Speaking of public policy debates, Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said that, while everyone had a right to his opinion, no one had a right to his own facts. Something similar might be said about today’s debates within the Church: Everyone has a right to their opinion about the state of Catholicism in 2017, but no one has a right to invent their own Church history.
I thought of Moynihan’s Rule when reading British writer Paul Vallely’s December 17 op-ed in the Guardian. There, the author of an important biography of Pope Francis argued that the Pope is “steadily filling the College of Cardinals with moderate pastors rather than doctrinal ideologues.” This is, of course, a standard journalistic trope. It’s also fake history.
Which fact can easily be established by consulting the Annuario Pontificio, the official Vatican yearbook. There, in the pages devoted to the College of Cardinals, we find these names, in order of their cardinalatial seniority: Roger Etchegaray, Godfried Danneels, Thomas Stafford Williams, Paul Poupard, Achille Silvestrini, Angelo Sodano, Roger Mahony, Jaime Ortega, William Keeler, Darío Castrillón Hoyos, Dionigi Tettamanzi, Christoph Schönborn, Giovanni Battista Re, Walter Kasper, Theodore McCarrick, Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, Cláudio Hummes, Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Karl Lehmann, Renato Martino, Tarcisio Bertone, Peter Turkson, Franc Rodé, Leonardo Sandri, Giovanni Lajolo, Seán Brady, Oswald Gracias, Odilo Scherer, Francesco Monterisi, Kurt Koch, Gianfranco Ravasi, Reinhard Marx, Francesco Coccopalmerio, João Braz de Aviz, Domenico Calcagno, Rainer Maria Woelki, Béchara Boutros Raï, and Luis Antonio Tagle.
Now I don’t wish to be harsh, but anyone who imagines that any of those men is a “doctrinal ideologue” has forfeited his claim to be a credible Vaticanista. And every single one of them was named a cardinal by John Paul II or Benedict XVI. Every. Single. One.
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