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Pope, Council of Cardinals discuss collegiality, Synod; today's talks turn to Roman Curia

Catholic World News - October 02, 2013

During their first day of discussions on potential Church reforms, Pope Francis and the Council of Cardinals spoke about the ecclesiology of Vatican II and the role of the Synod of Bishops.

In a briefing for reporters, Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, reported that the Pope and the 8-cardinal council devoted their Tuesday-afternoon session to an exploration of the best role for the Synod of Bishops. Archbishop Lorenzo Baldiserri, the newly appointed secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, joined the Council for that discussion.

The 3-day meeting began on Tuesday morning, October 1, with introductory remarks by Pope Francis, who reflected on the role of the Church as seen by Vatican II, Father Lombardi said. Each of the 8 cardinals then offered his own reflections, including suggestions he had received from others. The conversation involved the relationship between the universal Church and the local dioceses, the role of the laity, and service to the poor, the Vatican spokesman said. Following on this general discussion, he added, thee Council “will later consider structures of governance.”

On Wednesday, October 2, the Council will continue its deliberations with a discussion of the Roman Curia, especially the Secretariat of State.

Father Lombardi repeated an earlier caution to reporters, saying that the media should not expect any definitive statements from the Council. The cardinals are an advisory group, he reminded the press, and any decisions will be made by the Pope. Moreover, the Council is expected to continue its discussions beyond this week’s meetings; their planning for reform is a “long-term task.”

However, Father Lombardi said that some news about the next meeting of the Synod of Bishops could emerge “within a few days,” since preparations for that meeting must be made.

After holding their first meeting in the papal apartment, Father Lombardi disclosed, the Council moved its deliberations to the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where all the cardinals are staying this week (and where Pope Francis has made his permanent residence). After morning Mass the group convenes at 9 and works until 12, then meets again from 4 to 7 in the evening.

Father Lombardi told reporters that Pope Francis had written a chirograph formally establishing the Council of Cardinals to give the group “juridical status, stability, and continuity.” He said that although the 8 cardinals come from different parts of the world, it would be wrong to think of them simply as representatives of various geographical regions. Rather, he said, “They are all people whom the Pope holds in high regard, with whom he is in confidence and accord and whose advice he considers to be helpful in taking what he considers to be the most suitable approach to the governance of the Church.”

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