This piece first appeared on March 16 last year. I reproduce it (slightly altered) here ... together with its original thread ... because I consider this a matter of some importance: an abuse calling for reform, but still unreformed even in a reforming pontificate.
It is nice to know that Important People in Rome read my blog so carefully and take it so seriously. Cardinal Walter Kasper, I gather, agrees with my observation of February 28 2014: it is an abuse to thrust episcopacy upon curial bureaucrats as a sort of 'honour'. He points out that even the great and admirable Cardinal Ottaviani, that hugely wonderful apotheosis of doctrinal rigour combined with Traditional peasant Catholicism [that bit's my description, not Kasper's], was not a bishop until S John XXIII, in accordance with his deplorable new policy, forced him to become one. Indeed, back even in the days of the 'Renaissance Prince' papacy, this was not thought necessary. (Blessed John Henry Newman was never a bishop.) Why can't the present Holy Father see the logic of my and Kasper's point? To thrust the charism of a Successor of the Apostles upon someone who is not going to be using that sacramental status in et cum Ecclesia, as the Shepherd of a Particular Church with its presbyterium, diakonia, and laos, but is merely going to have a 'titular' see in some long-forgotten place, is an abuse of the Sacraments. It is to use the Sacraments themselves merely to augment a bureaucrat's dignity and vanity ... as well as Signor Gammarelli's profits! Of course, there are bishops whose ministry of episkope is unusual but is pastorally episcopal (one thinks of Archbishop Pozzo, of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, or Archbishop Gaenswein, Prefect of the Familia papalis) but I do not think that these are typical of curial roles.
Neither Walter Kasper nor I are attacking the present Pope in saying this. Pope Benedict XVI and S John Paul II used episcopal Consecration in precisely the way we are criticising. In my view, it would show Pope Francis in a very good light if he took the opportunity of his reform of the structures of the Curia to introduce this reform as part of the package. He's removed all the stuff about prebyters getting automatically to call themselves Monsignore ... good ... but the abuse of the Apostolic Ministry carries on.
Let Cardinal Presbyters be and remain Cardinal Presbyters! (And wear, daily, a galero, if they want to!) But what is worst is that secretaries of dicasteries are made archbishops. Is the Holy Father not aware that, in the local churches throughout the world, 'Archbishop' is a title of some distinction? Sometimes it is suggested that such 'rank' is necessary so that the curial chappy concerned can 'outrank' Bishops from dioceses (rather as the Officer commanding a naval base used to be made the Harbour Admiral so that he could outrank pushy visiting ships' Captains). But does the Body of Christ need this preoccupation with rank?