Bertone's appointment was widely expected, given his ties to the pope. Benedict's emerging approach to top appointments seems to be to tap men with whom he has a close relationship of trust, regardless of whether they fit the traditional profile for the post. (This was the case, for example, in his appointment of Cardinal William Levada as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).
Many in the Secretariat of State are nonplussed by the appointment, since they regard a background in Vatican diplomacy, including a few tours in postings around the world, as a sine qua non; one told me last week that being Secretary of State is "no place for on-the-job training."
Currently, rumors in Rome suggest that Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, may replace Bertone in Genoa. If so, combined with the recent transfer of Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe from the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples to Naples, it would mean the exit from the Vatican of the most senior officials associated with the diplomatic corps, and would be widely read as "clipping of the wings" of the church's diplomats in favor of officials with a stronger doctrinal background. Sepe's replacement, Cardinal Ivan Dias of India, although a longtime diplomat himself, is also known for a strong set of theological convictions close to those of Benedict XVI.
The logic for Bertone's appointment, aside from his personal connection to the pope, is no doubt that he can ensure that concerns of Catholic identity trump the logic of compromise that is often the stuff of diplomacy.
Speaking of clipping wings, I believe with Bishop Finn at the helm, there could be some traction in a Canonical trail against the word Catholic on the National Catholic Reporter. I personally would love to see that word stripped off their heretical rag.
If you work your way down past Allen's drivel, you'll find this:
Anyone who has followed American politics in recent years knows the revolution that has taken place in the "religious vote." Once the Democrats were the party of immigrant Catholics, and the Republicans the party of the Protestant establishment; today the Democrats tend to be the party of secularism, and Republicans the party of voters for whom religion is a major concern.
I never understood the wisdom of trying to sell religion to the party whose mission is political paganism. It's like trying to sell Jenny Craig with commercials of fat people pushing chocolate, cupcakes and butter.
Talk about putting the kibosh on your mission!
Anyhoo - Allen comes to the subjective point (what happened in the culture wars in Italy between pagans and people religious to their religion):
All this means, according to Galli della Loggia, that the magnetic appeal of cattocommunismo in the early 20th century, that of a meeting between "two peoples" in defense of social solidarity and the "humble Italy," against the Italy of the signori and the bourgeoisie, is largely finished. Instead, the radical left and Catholics find themselves on opposite sides of the culture wars. The left supports a "subjectivist" ethics, while Catholics defend the values of human life and traditional visions of the family.
All that is false is largely finished.
Prayer of Saint Francis before the San Damiano Crucifix
All highest, glorious, God, cast your light into the darkness of my heart. Give me right faith, firm hope, perfect charity, and profound humility, with wisdom and perception, O Lord, so that I may do what is truly your holy will.