His appointment went practically unnoticed but is proof of the great trust Benedict XVI has in the Opus Dei as part of his strategy to silently clean up the Roman Curia in the aftermath of the Vatileaks scandal. The Vatican City State has a new inspector: Rafael García de la Serrana Villalobos.
Last 26 January, the priest was appointed vice director of the Department of Technical Services for the Governorate of the world’s smallest State. And he was not chosen by chance. Only yesterday he was head of logistics at the Opus Dei headquarters in Rome.
The not-quite-50-year-old priest was ordained presbyter on 23 May 2009. His is a classical “adult vocation” that was born within the body founded by San Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer. An engineer by training, he coupled the skills needed in his new task with a deep spirituality.
He came to the Vatican after what had been a truly “black year” as a result of the Vatileaks affair (the scandal which broke out after the publication of some confidential letters which the Pope’s former butler, Paolo Gabriele stole from Benedict XVI’s apartment). One of the reports leaked by the poison pen letter writer and then published in Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi’s book “Sua Santità” (“His Holiness”), mentions that Mgr. Carlo Maria Viganò addressed the Pope, denouncing the “corruption” that existed within the Technical Services’ management.
Although the Vatican had denied that the situation was as described in the letter, Viganò wrote that the Technical Services’ management was being compromised by evident instances of corruption: work entrusted to the same companies, at double the cost of work carried out outside the Vatican. A kingdom divided into small feuds: a domestic construction industry and an external construction industry; a chaotic management of stores; the situation was beyond imagination and yet the Curia was well aware of it.
In his account, Viganò also made mention to the excessive amounts spent on the Nativity Scene for St. Peter’s Square. 550 thousand Euros were spent on it in 2009 but this was halved in 2010 after the cost-cutting operation adopted by the Vatican, with the setting-up costing just 21 thousand Euros thanks to the financial support of the Southern Italian region of Basilicata.
Given all the above, it appears Rafael García de la Serrana’s appointment is anything but a coincidence. As an engineer, he offers a guarantee that he will not be duped into paying exorbitant prices; as a priest, he will ensure a greater resistance to temptation as well as restoring people’s trust in the Pope and in the Church. Honesty in other words.
With the new vice director of the Department of Technical Services, the Opus Dei has not only reinforced its role within the Curia, where some of its members occupy prestigious posts, it has also proved itself as one of the ecclesiastical bodies closest to the Pope.
Cardinal Julián Herranz led the commission that investigated into the source of the leaked news. Meanwhile, American journalist and numerary member of the Opus Dei, Greg Burke, is in charge of the Vatican communications strategy. All of them Opus Dei men.
I also didn't know that Greg Burke (formerly of Fox News) was a numerary, which are celibate Opus Dei members. They can be men or women. As opposed to supernummeraries, who are married Opus Dei members. Then you have the co-operators, such as myself, who aren't technically members, but we get access to the Opus Dei spirituality. They are all about holiness in every day life.
The Opus Dei and Benedict XVI’s “silent clean-up" operation ~ The Vatican Insider