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It’s not really a surprise, as Pope Francis’ intention to restructure the Roman Curia had been discussed and speculated about since his election – in fact, it was a major topic during the pre-conclave General Congregations. Never having been a curial cardinal himself, Pope Francis has decided to appoint a group of eight cardinals to help him in this process: the first concrete step towards a possible future restructuring. But what is noticeable is that only one of the members of this group comes from the Curia. It seems that a multinational group of non-curial prelates will have a major say about the future of the Curia.
Oscar Andrés Cardinal Maradiaga Rodríguez, archbishop of Tegucigalpa (Honduras), will act as coordinator of the group, and Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano (Italy) will be secretary. The remaining six members are:
Giuseppe Cardinal Bertello, President of the Governatorate of Vatican City State
Francisco Javier Cardinal Errazuriz Ossa, Archbishop emeritus of Santiago de Chile (Chile)
Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay (India)
Reinhard Cardinal Marx, Archbishop of München und Freising (Germany)
Laurent Cardinal Monswengo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Sean Patrick Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston (United States)
George Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney (Australia)
This seems to be an answer to the desire of several cardinals, among them Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, that a group of cardinals be established to assist the Pope in the management of the Church. The difference here though, is that the current group of eight will only assist the Pope in one very specific matter not unlike the group of three that Pope Benedict XVI tasked with investigating the VatiLeaks case last year.
Aside from the general task of advising the Pope in the government of the Church, the Group of 8 will study a lan for revising Pastor Bonus, the Apostolic Constitution by which Blessed Pope John Paul II launched a number of revisions to the Curia in 1998. The general expectation and hope seems to be that certain offices will be merged or even suppressed to achieve a more effective Curia without the excessive careerism that many have noted has been preventing a smooth running of the Curial duties.
The Group of 8 will first meet in October, although Pope Francis is in contact with all of them (and with the Holy Father we may assume that that is certainly true – after all, he is not averse to picking up the phone to whoever he needs to speak to).
Photo credit: CNS
In the final days before the Congregation for Bishops ceases its regular work when the Pope’s abdication goes into effect, it seems it wants to close some open files. Yesterday and today we saw a whole raft of appointments in such diverse countries as Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Tunisia and Congo, as well as in the Holy See’s diplomatic representation in several other countries.
Standing out are the appointments of Archbishop Ilario Antoniazzi of Tunis and Bishop Miguel Angel Olaverri Arroniz (pictured) of Pointe-Noire in Congo. Tunis is one of northern Africa’s major archdioceses. The previous archbishop, Msgr. Maroun Elias Nimeh Lahham, was called to Jerusalem as an auxiliary bishop in January of last year. Pointe-Noire, then, lost her previous bishop, Msgr. Jean-Claude Makaya Loembe, when he was removed from his office because of mismanagement in March of 2011. He was one of the handful of bishops who lost their jobs under Pope Benedict XVI.
Among the reassignments of Apostolic Nuncios (five were appointed or reassigned today) is Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, who was the Undersecretary for the Relations with States at the Secretariat of State until today. He was assigned as Nuncio to Colombia, and some see this as a result of his name having been mentioned in the context of the Vatileaks scandal. Whether that is true is anyone’s guess, of course, but it does stand out.
The Prefect of the Congregation for Bishop, Marc Cardinal Ouellet, is considered a papabile, so perhaps the Congregation is wise to get as much work done in these last days: who knows, she may lose her prefect during the conclave…
Photo credit: Javier Valiente
“Events in recent days regarding the Curia and my collaborators have brought sadness to my heart, though the firm conviction, that despite human weakness, despite difficulties and trials, the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit, and the Lord will never fail to give His aid in sustaining the Church on her journey. Nevertheless, some entirely gratuitous rumors have multiplied, amplified by some media, which went well beyond the facts, offering a picture of the Holy See that does not correspond to reality. I would like therefore to reiterate my confidence and my encouragement to my staff and to all those who, day in and day out, faithfully and with a spirit of sacrifice, quietly help me in fulfilling my ministry.”
Unscripted words from Pope Benedict XVI at today’s audience.
Everyone seems to know something about the background of what has become known as VatiLeaks – the whodunnit, the conspiracies and exactly which cardinal has it out against the pope – but I think that a loving unity with one another, and today especially with the Holy Father, will go a long way, certainly further than finger-pointing and accusations. That goes for us faithful in the pews just as much as for the prelates in their Vatican offices.
Photo credit: Andreas Solaro/AFP/GettyImages