A Legion of Christ bishop is among the four counselors Pope Benedict XVI will likely choose to assist his official delegate in reorganizing the order's constitutions. Accompanying these much-awaited nominations could also be the appointment of a familiar name to carry out the Apostolic Visitation of the Legion's lay movement, Regnum Christi.
According to Vatican sources, the nominations will be made in the coming days.
Three out of the four counselors thought to be probable picks for work within the Legion under the direction of pontifical delegate Archbishop Velasio De Paolis are members of religious communities. In addition to the diocesan Msgr. Mario Marchesi, Jesuit Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, Legion Bishop Brian Farrell and Josephine Father of Murialdo, Fr. Agostino Montan, may all be tapped for duty under the leadership of the president of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
Msgr. Marchesi is currently the vicar general for the Italian Diocese of Cremona, but in the past has worked in the Vatican as undersecretary at the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and director of the law office of the Italian Bishops' Conference.
Fr. Ghirlanda only recently stepped down from his post as rector of the Jesuit's Pontifical Gregorian University, where he has served for the last six years. A doctor of Canon Law, he taught for 30 years before being promoted to the head of the university.
Included on the long list of Vatican councils and congregations for which he has served as consultor in the past 23 years is the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Fr. Ghirlanda was also appointed as an expert to the 9th Ordinary Assembly on the Consecrated Life in 1994 and his writings on a number of Catholic themes have been widely published.
Bishop Farrell is the Dublin-born secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and a consultor for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II himself in 2003.
Fr. Agostino Montan is the ordinary of Canon Law in the Faculty of Theology at Rome's Pontifical Lateran University. He is also the coordinator of advanced studies in Ecclesiology at the same instiution and is in charge of the organization that coordinates Italy's theological associations.
These counselors would assist Archbishop De Paolis in carrying out his primary task of conducting the revision of the Legion of Christ's constitutions. In a June 16, 2010 letter appointing the archbishop as his delegate, Pope Benedict told him that he has "the power to intervene wherever he sees fit, including in the internal government of the Institute, on all levels” and will be with the Legion until "its path of renewal" is completed.
According to that same letter, the four counselors will help him to identify, discuss and clarify the principal issues within the order. If the archbishop sees it necessary, they may also be complemented by committees to study certain matters formed either of Legion personnel or of competent external persons.
At the conclusion of the visitation of the Legion of Christ, the Holy Father promised that Regnum Christi would also be the subject of an Apostolic Visitation. Archbishop Ricardo Blazquez of the Archdiocese of Valladolid, Spain is thought to be the top choice for the task.
Having also served as one of the five visitors that carried out the Apostolic Visitation of the Legion which concluded with meetings in Rome last May, Archbishop Blazquez would bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to this visitation.
In the May 1 communique that announced the conclusions of the final meetings of Apostolic Visitors to the Legion, a visitor was promised for the "consecrated members of the 'Regnum Christi' Movement, who," it was written, "have insistently requested this."