In particular, Libanori expressed his point of view in a letter he addressed on March 19 to the priests of the sector of the diocese of Rome he administers. The letter was then published in the issue 4076 of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Jesuit-run Italian magazine vetted by the Vatican Secretariat of State.
La Civiltà Cattolica titled the letter "Faith at the time of Covid 19". In the letter, Libanori noted that "many complain that the closing of the churches is part of the restrictions," but he warned that "it is the State, not the Church, that must legislate in terms of public health."
Bishop Libanori then asked to find "new ways" to nurture the faith in a time of emergency. He conceded that "an open church might also be a sign of comfort." However, he added, "if it is just a sign, it is enough that only the Cathedral remains open."
He added that "the True Church, made of men, thank God can live without churches, as it happened during the first centuries and as it is still happening in many places of the world."
Bishop Libanori then asked whether "the protest, also vivid, against the shutdown of churches is animated by faith or rather by a religious sentiment that needs to be purified." The bishop also invited "not to be taken by the false zeal," since "behind the too insistent request for Eucharist often lies a sincere, but not mature, faith."
Bishop Libanori showed a total consonance with Pope Francis, and perhaps his position on the matter might be decisive for him to take the post.
The appointment of a new Prefect Clergy will begin the significant reshuffle of the top ranks in the Roman Curia.
While the Curia reform is still awaited, five prefects out of nine already turned 75. Beyond that, there are other top slots in the Curia that are going to be vacant.
The Congregation for Clergy will experience a significant overhaul when the reform does come. Also, the secretary of the Congregation, Archbishop Joel Mercier, turned 75 in January. In March, Bishop Fernando Vergez Alzaga, general secretary of the Vatican City State administration, turned 75.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, turned 75 in April. Quite surprisingly, Pope Francis confirmed him donec aliter provideatur (until it is differently decided).
The other prefects who surpassed the retirement age are Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who turned 75 last June; Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, also 75 since June 2019; Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, who is 76; and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, also 76.
(Column continues below)
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If Libanori does get the job, it will be the second time the Jesuit Pope selects a confrere for a top-ranking Vatican position, after the appointment – last year – of Fr. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, as Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.