Today's bulletin from the Holy See's press office brings a couple of interesting pieces of 'house-keeping' on behalf of His Holiness.
The goings-on at St Paul's Outside the Walls have made interesting viewing in recent months. The ball was set rolling back in September 2004 when the monastery was removed from the jurisdiction of the Cassinese Benedictines and placed ('outside a congregation') directly under the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Federation. In the following months, the comminity at St Paul's was beefed up by the introduction of Benedictines from other Abbeys. There was also speculation at the time that the Benedictines were to be dislodged and replaced by the 'Fraternity of Jesus' - a congregation of religious said to be well-regarded by the then Cardinal Ratzinger.
On the 7th of March this year the Abbey was stripped of its Territorial (quasi-diocesan) status and its territory incorporated into the Diocese of Rome. Up to this point, it had been governed by the Abbot and a Papal Delegate who governed the 'Pontifical Administration of the Patriarchal Basilica' - Archbishop Francesco Gioia, Secretary Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. The Abbot, Paolo Lunardon stepped down shortly thereafter.
On the 7th of May, the Holy Father approved the election of Dom Edmund Power (an English Benedictine from Douai Abbey with a strong administrative reputatation) as the new Abbot of San Paolo fuori le Mura.
Finally, today the Holy Father has put in place a new administrative structure for the Abbey and Basilica. In brief, the old 'Pontifical Administration' is being suppressed, and San Paolo will have an Archpriest nominated by the Pope just like the other 3 Major Patriarcal Basilicas. The Abbot of San Paolo will serve as the Archpriest's Vicar with respect to pastoral matters and will exercise an Abbot's role within the Abbey itself. This is quite a reduction in jurisdiction compared to the former situation whereby the Abbot had the authority of a Bishop over an area surrounding the abbey itself.
It's interesting to note who some of the Abbots of San Paolo have been over the last century. Probably the most distinguished was Bl. Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster who became Cardinal and Archbishop of Milan. Decidedly less distinguished was Giovanni Franzoni - he later left the Abbey and married a Japanese psychatrist.
I forgot to mention that the new Archpriest is none other than the blue-blooded Archbishop Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, Titular Archbishop of Tuscany and designer of the Holy Father's coat of arms. It seems we can add his name to that of Levada on the list of those almost certain to be made Cardinals at the next consistory.