Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

ICYMI: another consolidation of power in Rome

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 19, 2024

When the Council of Cardinals was created in 2013, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras was named as the group’s chairman (the official term was “coordinator”). He continued in that role until March of last year, when having passed his 80th birthday he retired. Nearly a year later, he has been replaced as coordinator by… nobody.

In itself this is no big deal. When the Council meets with the Pope in attendance, there is no question about who takes precedence. If the Pope is absent, the Secretary of State takes the lead role. Still the “coordinator” role counted for something, and the failure to fill it is just one more little indication that in the latter stages of the current pontificate, for all the talk of democracy and synodality and decentralization, the lines of authority are being tightened, the organizational chart is being simplified, the realities of Vatican governance are more and more autocratic.

Just by the way, the current composition of the Council of Cardinals shows a circling of the wagons in another way. Originally the group included a cardinal from every continent, including Australia. Today the group includes one cardinal from Africa, one from Asia, one from South America, two from North America, none from Australia/Oceania, and four from Europe.—five, if you including the non-voting secretary, Bishop Marco Mellino, who is Italian. So while the Third World is represented, the First World dominates.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Feb. 20, 2024 2:38 PM ET USA

    The Pope talks synodality but walks concentrating more and more power on himself. This Pope early on was called "the Dictator Pope." He has done nothing to dispel this perception, while talking synodality, along with causing intense doctrinal harm and confusion. The Argentine newspaper Clarín had it right in an editorial (Aug 2023):"Bergoglio is not seeking to improve the Church or the doctrine of the Church. He is only attending to his internal political game, which he does in the usual way."