Pope to meet with Council of Cardinals, weigh Vatican reforms
September 30, 2013
On Tuesday, October 1, Pope Francis will begin 3 days of consultations with the 8 cardinals he has appointed to advise him on Vatican reforms.
Pope Francis formally established the group as a “Council of Cardinals,” in a chirograph dated September 28. In the same document the Pope confirmed that the group would be working on a revision of Pastor Bonus, the 1988 apostolic constitution with which Pope John Paul II instituted the last major changes in the Roman Curia.
The Pontiff had appointed the members of the commission in April, but had not given the group a name or specified its functions. In his September 28 document, the Pope explains that he instituted the Council of Cardinals in response to suggestions made by many prelates in the discussions leading up to the conclave in which he was elected. He said that he agreed that “such an initiative would be of significant use in fulfilling the pastoral ministry of Peter’s Successor entrusted to me by my brother cardinals.”
At a September 30 briefing about the consultations, Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, reminded reporters that the Council of Cardinals is “an organ of consultation for the Pope,” with no institutional ties to any other office of the Roman Curia.
While the Council of Cardinals will be meeting in person for the first time, Father Lombardi disclosed that 80 documents have been circulated among the members, including suggestions and comments from current Vatican officials. The Council members have communicated with each other frequently, he said, and each member has spoken personally with Pope Francis.
This week’s consultations will take place in the library of the papal apartment in the apostolic palace, with working session in the morning and evening of each day. Pope Francis is expected to attend all of the sessions, except during his regular general audience on Wednesday, October 2.
The Pope’s conversations with the Council of Cardinals will be private, Father Lombardi said, and no public statement should be anticipated. This week’s sessions are expected to be the first in a series of meetings.
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiago of Tegucigalpa, Honduras was named by the Pope to coordinate the Council. The others named to the group by Pope Francis in April are: Cardinals Giuseppe Bertello, the president of the Vatican city-state governorate; Francisco Errazuriz Ossa, the retired Archbishop of Santiago, Chile; Oswald Graciaas of Bombay; Reinhard Marx of Munich; Sean O’Malley of Boston; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa; and George Pell of Sydney. Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy, will act as the group’s secretary.
In his chirograph Pope Francis said that the membership of the Council of Cardinals could be altered in what he determined to be “the most appropriate way.” Thus the Pontiff left open the possibility that he would appoint new members to the group.
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