Pope Francis convokes a “group” of Cardinals

One month into his pontificate, Pope Francis has done a few unusual things.  Here is another.

The G8.

Pope Francis invited a group of cardinals to meet to help him, among other things it seems, revise John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus, which governs the activity of the Roman Curia.  The Cardinals are from different continents.  The group has no legislative role.  Apparently during the General Congregations leading up to the Conclave there was a call for such a group.

The first meeting is 1-3 October.

The members of the group are:

  • – Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State; [Whom I suspect could wind up Secretary of State one day.]
  • – Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, archbishop emeritus of Santiago de Chile, Chile; [S. America, Spanish speaker.]
  • – Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, India; [Asia. He was a member of Vox Clara.]
  • – Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany; [Europe.]
  • – Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; [Africa. He preached the Curia’s spiritual exercises in 2012.]
  • – Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Boston, USA; [N. America. Spanish speaker.]
  • – Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia; [Australia. The only Australian Cardinal.]
  • – Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in the role of coordinator; [C. America is not a continent, and S. America is represented. He is a Salesian, as is SecState Bertone. Spanish speaker, of course, as well as German and English.] and
  • – Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy, in the role of secretary. [Bishop of one of the nearby Suburbicarian dioceses, also where Castel Gandolfo is.]

What is interesting is not only which Cardinals were chosen, but which were not chosen.

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  1. lhuizenga says:

    “…which were not chosen.” Say more?

  2. louder says:

    Probably a certain Cardinal from Milan, who supposedly made the reform of the curia his platform.

  3. Imrahil says:

    What is interesting is not only which Cardinals were chosen, but which were not chosen.

    Such as
    – Cardinal Sodano, who formally has the office of highest rank below the Pope
    – Cardinal Bertone
    – Cardinal Erdö, president of the confederation of European bishops’ conferences (Cardinal Marx is president of the confederation of European Union bishops’ conferences
    – neither Cardinal Scola nor Cardinal Bagnasco
    – neither Cardinal Dolan nor Cardinal Burke
    – no Frenchman
    – none from Spain
    – neither a Portuguese nor a Brazilian
    – that a diocesan bishop, rather than a Curia official, fulfils the role of secretary… which, of course, is probably intended to begin the reform already, so to speak.

  4. Joe in Canada says:

    Is there any indication as to whether he consulted anyone, or whether the conclave wanted these particular men?

  5. r7blue1pink says:

    Several are members of Pax Christi and of Caritas…. What does THAT say?

  6. The Drifter says:

    I wonder if the Holy Father has not been reading about Florentine history in the Renaissance. One of the favourite tricks employed by the Medici when they wished to tighten the screws, consisted in creating new institutional bodies that, immediately or over a period of time, assumed the functions and powers of older bodies, which remained inexistence as empty, if prestigious, shells. I guess we’ll know if Savonarola’s beatification starts being discussed again (although strange, since the Jesuits have always been against it).

  7. Imrahil says:

    – no head of an Eastern Church.

  8. JimGB says:

    I do not find the absence of Card. Burke from the list to be surprising since the Pope appears to want diocesan bishops from the corners of the globe to comprise the group, rather than current Curial officials. Cardinal Bertone is going to retire soon and would not likely be chosen in any event. Having Cardinal O’Malley rather than Cardinal Dolan represent North America is somewhat surprising given the latter’s role as head of the USCCB, but perhaps that is also why he was not chosen; Cardinal O’ Malley’s more reserved Capuchin persona and fluent language ability in Spanish and Italian might have been factors in the choice. Cardinal Dolan is my bishop and I think highly of him but I can see why the Pope chose Cardinal O’Malley.

  9. Glen M says:

    At this stage in the game I am not interested in who was or who wasn’t appointed. What matters now is results. Today there is a news story about a porn site releasing details of download traffic from Vatican City. Not a credible source obviously, but it plays to existing suspicions inside and outside the Church. If Pope Francis was elected to sweep the filth out of the Curia then just get it done. All this speculating among the laity distracts from our spiritual tasks and wastes our time.

  10. Lin says:

    I got my paper bag ready!

  11. Lin says:

    The first meeting is not until October 1! Must be an urgent need! Keeping the bag handy!

  12. Ellen_N. says:

    I read where Bertello and Errazuriz are the only ones who served or have served in the Roman curia. They all appear to have run dioceses. Yet do any of them have degrees in canon law?

  13. rcg says:

    Central America is actually part of North America and has a significant link to other NA countries, politically and financially. They are nearing a significant ‘reorganisation’ and will have a lot to contribute to our understanding of peaceful political change. I think Pell is a very interesting choice.

  14. Bob B. says:

    Cardinal O’Malley has put his archdiocese $140m in debt, has an expensive senior lay staff, nearly half of his parishes operate in the red, he (and his fellow clerics) continues to give communion to pro-abortion politicians, and has experienced a 34% drop in mass attendance since he took over. He is going to help reform the Curia when he can’t even take care of his own archdiocese? Makes one wonder about the other cardinals and who really suggested them to the pope?

  15. APX says:

    I’m just not going to think about it, or try to analyze it , nor worry about it. I’m just gonna pray for the Church and the pope. As it’s said in the Sunscreen Song, “worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.”

  16. MAJ Tony says:

    Just my guess based on personalities, I’m with JimGB as to why Card. O’Malley and not Card. Dolan. Card. Dolan may be just a bit too strong a personality. Not strong as in controlling or forceful. Just someone whose exuberance may cause others to follow his lead because of natural human tendency.

  17. mamajen says:

    I’m with you, APX! I know very little about the individual cardinals, so I really don’t know what to think. Maybe I don’t need to think anything.

  18. McCall1981 says:

    From what I know, which isnt much, Cardinal Marx seems good. Also, no Schoernborn or Scherer is good

  19. Gratias says:

    Pope Francis seems to wish to evolve Church governance to the periphery. The CELAM, Episcopal Conference of Latin America, was an engine of liberation theology revolution in that continent. CELAM will now have its own representative in Rome through the new Council. I would like to learn more about CELAM here, I do not know enough about it to comment more.

    It seems to me that this devolution towards autonomous deliberative bodies will turn the Church towards the average culture of the day. If holy bishops arise, that would offer the EF Mass for example, they will be squelched by the majority.

  20. Lucas Whittaker says:

    I have a sense of uneasiness about those who will meet to make judgments on this project because I have begun to understand that regarding liturgy beauty is “not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action” (SC). And as Blessed John Paul appeals for us to put Jesus at the center of liturgical celebrations: “the beauty of which the rite wishes only to be the manifestation…of Christ himself in the Paschal Mystery” (SC). From what I now understand then, the mark of a priest who loves both apostolic tradition and writing—and therefore mother Church—is one who uses his “ars celebrandi” to express the intrinsic beauty of the liturgy in an effort to manifest Christ present before those who assist at Mass within an atmosphere of wonder and contemplation that opens all present to the ineffable gift present under the form of mystery. The liturgical norms are guarantors of the beauty that is intrinsic to the liturgy. The liturgy is the living environment for the Bible and it offers an expression through Tradition of sacraments that are rooted “in the earthly form of Christ’s mission itself”: Scripture and Tradition.

    While this is not immediately connected to the content of Pastor Bonus, Pastor Bonus spells out the manner in which the Curia will “strengthen the unity of the faith and the communion of the people of God and promote the mission proper to the Church in the world.” The connection that I make lies with my doubt over a shared sense of Tradition among those who will attend this project to revise Pastor Bonus: I don’t think that all involved do share the sense of Tradition that I have come to know and hold as dear. And if this is true then exactly what mission will these men come to see as proper to the Church?

    Our Catholic identity is an important tool through which to evangelize. I hope that whatever takes place to revise Pastor Bonus will strengthen Catholic identity so that we are seen as a sign of hope through which the bright rays of the Son’s light will emanate. I believe that we are in a unique position to be able to build walls up between ourselves and the prevailing culture in such a way that we become more inviting rather than closed off: We will be more inviting to the extent that we give concrete expression to the Lord’s obedience in love.

  21. Daniel says:

    Apparently anyone can purchase a VPN account that could identify their IP Address as being in Vatican City, regardless of your actual location. Therefore reports of downloads being made by people with Vatican City IP Addresses don’t seem to mean much.

  22. Marcello says:

    I should add that there are several American cardinals that would have been far better picks than O’Malley of Boston. As noted above, his archdiocese is pretty much a mess (still). I suspect he was picked because he is both a religious and Spanish speaker. Dolan is too forceful of a personality–he sucks all the oxygen out of the room.

    The great danger I see is this council deciding to spin authority away from the curia and empower the national episcopal conferences, which have no theological basis for governance. Instead of one Roman curia–however flawed–we will have hundreds of “mini-curias” in each country or region, thereby creating even more petty fiefdoms run by middle-level bureaucrats. So rather than “reforming” the curia, there will be created even more curias all over the place perpetuating the problems and multiplying them, instead of actually addressing the needed reform in Rome.

  23. Hidden One says:

    I’m just glad that it isn’t my job to advise the Pope.

  24. Bob B. says:

    The USCCB as an example of a mini-curia might be should be enough to scare anyone. A lot of the money they have spent in recent years has been justifiably questioned and half their public comments seem not to reflect reality.
    What is needed is for the bishops to do what they are charged with doing, lead on issues of Faith and correct the ignorant (politicians) and, if they won’t change their ways, expel them.

  25. marylise says:

    In case national episcopal conferences are on the G8 agenda, it should be remembered that in Canada it was a 1968 national episcopal conference (a plenary assembly), which defied the teachings of Humanae vitae. The worst part of the document issuing from the plenary assembly (the “Winnipeg Statement”), was paragraph 26, which read, “Counsellors may meet others who, accepting the teaching of the Holy Father, find that because of particular circumstances they are involved in what seems to them a clear conflict of duties, e.g., the reconciling of conjugal love and responsible parenthood with the education of children already born or with the health of the mother. In accord with the accepted principles of moral theology, if these persons have tried sincerely, but without success to pursue a line of conduct in keeping with the given directives, they may be safely assured that, whoever chooses that course which seems right to him does so in good conscience.” In other words, Catholics are free to use contraception as long as they are sincere. The disastrous effect of this document cannot be exaggerated. Catholics in Canada became enslaved to contraception, but even worse they learned from the example of their own bishops to go ahead and disobey the pope.

  26. monmir says:

    I do not know much about the Roman Curia, but the talk about the need for its reform is also deflecting the fact that conferences of Bishops need reform themselves. Most bishops have been absent for a long time, instead of being involved in conscience formation, USCCB has now transformed itself into a community organizing agency with one of the consequences being the support of the intrinsic evil present administration. Their last recommendation will indirectly, help chip further at our religious liberty. Less power mot more. Less grand life?

  27. Pingback: Pope Francis and Super Cardinals - Big Pulpit

  28. James Joseph says:

    Archbishop John O’Malley Cardinal-type is a Pork and Cheese speaker really… adapted to Spanish due to proximity and the Dominicans of Jamaica Plain nationality-type.

  29. Nancy D. says:

    Cardinal Pell made a statement during a debate with an atheist that some same sex sexual relationships can be acceptable

  30. tperegrinus says:

    Re Card. Pell being “the only Australian Cardinal”…let’s not forget the Cardinal Cassidy and Cardinal Clancy are still alive…

    Nancy D. you are probably referring to the Vortex clip quoting Cardinal Pell saying that “civil unions are well and good”, which of course, doesn’t take into account the meaning of the idiom “well and good” and the fact that he was cut off by the interviewer and not allowed to finish his sentence.

    It’s all well and good to make certain assertions about a Cardinal of the Church, but one should actually check the wider context of the Cardinal’s statement and the idiom he was employing before drawing a final conclusion.

  31. solideopileolus says:

    Cardinal Gracias is my metropolitan and is well-spoken and holds a doctorate in Canon Law. The Archdiocese of Bombay however is awash with accusations of financial misdemeanor/mismanagement even amounting to fraud. The clergy here are wholly into inculturation and New Age practices such as vipassana meditation, yoga, naturopathy and crystal healing. Indifferentism, modernism and syncretism rule the roost here. I’ve heard cringe-worthy sermons at the largest parish in the Archdiocese openly advocating women’s ordination to a congregation numbering in the thousands, from the parish priest none-the-less. The EF is unknown to nearly everyone; even the parish offices I’ve called to enquire whether the EF was being offered haven’t seemed to have heard of it. Cardinal Gracias allows all of this to continue unchallenged. His reason for not implementing SP? Not enough interest shown by the laity. So far I haven’t heard a single sound-bite from him in defense of true orthodoxy and orthopraxis. I’m not optimistic in the least.


  32. Nancy D. says:

    If it is true that Pope Francis approved of same sex sexual unions and thus same sex sexual acts, he is an anti pope because being in communion with Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, is not a matter of degree.(Catholic Canon 750)

  33. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Nancy D.,

    consider this an instruction of the ignorant.

    1. Once baptized, you do not lose communion with the Holy Church for anything in question here*, especially not for weakness in teaching, due or undue emphasizing subjectivity as regards sin, or considering other political paths prudent than yourself do.
    2. A same-sex civil union is not a same-sex marriage and certainly not a same-sex sexual union.

    As our drill instructor would have said, “herewith instructed; at ease”.

    Apologies for being straightforward, but your comment was, frankly, unbearable.

    [*According to Ludwig Ott, you lose it as a vitandus excommunicate, an apostate, a heretic or a schismatic. And the latter must be clear and obvious and, probably, public.]

  34. Maynardus says:

    I’m not very knowledgeable about any of the others, but as a Bostonian I would note that seeking advice from Cardinal O’Malley on matters of Church governance is a little like hiring Mr. Magoo as a watchman! I have no doubt the man is personally pious and sincere, but he’s got the Archdiocese of Boston heading straight over a cliff… In fairness I would note that his reform of St. John’s Seminary was much needed and has produced some very good results. And he is a rather good preacher. But in terms of actually governing the Archdiocese he seems to be asleep at the switch. For the most part he has abdicated that element of his episcopacy in favor of various hirelings and dissenters (both lay and clerical!)

  35. Robbie says:

    The only thing that eases my concerns, somewhat, over this new council is the appointment of Cardinal Pell.

  36. jhayes says:

    Maynardus, you are, of course, entitled to your opinion but, as another Bostonian, I am very happy for the Church that Cardinal O’Malley will be advising Pope Francis on Church governance.

  37. Bob B. says:

    “In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.” – “Considerations Regarding Proposals to give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons”
    Seems like Bishop Gumbelton and Cardinal Schoeborn need to understand this, as well.

  38. maryh says:

    Just to throw a wrench in the works, I don’t see where any of these same sex civil partnerships require the two people that are the same sex to be homosexual or to have any kind of sexual relationship at all.

    Why couldn’t two unmarried best friends get a civil partnership? Or two widowed women, who want to combine their finances? The only thing preventing them now is that people would think they were gay, but if it became common for widows or widowers or divorced people to form such partnerships, that would not need to remain the case.

    If that happens, will the law introduce the requirement that same sex partners must be homosexual? There are more heterosexual same sex couples not getting married or no longer married from which to create a pool for same sex partnerships than there are homosexual same sex couples. There could easily end up being more heterosexual people in same sex unions than homosexuals.

    And no, I’m not talking about a heterosexual man and woman forming a civil partnership (like in France). I’m talking about two heterosexual men or two heterosexual women forming a civil partnership.

  39. Hank Igitur says:

    Cardinal Pell is the only cardinal in Australia currently in charge of an archdiocese and under the age of 75 yrs. Cs Cassidy and Clancy are both “retired” so to speak. Pell is on the record having publicly refused communion to members of the “Rainbow Sash” movement in his cathedral on a number of occasions. This has been well documented in both religious and secular media. I am glad to see he is in this new group although it may mean we see less of him at home.

  40. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Bob B.,

    but this clear opposition etc. etc. revolves around the issue of one’s duties. Failure to do so can be sinful (or also not, as long as you don’t lie about your position, because in prudence one cannot do all things at a time). But it does not make a legitimate Pope an antipope.

    [Nevertheless, a civil union is, even though unjust and unnecessary, not a marriage, because it was specifically meant to be not a marriage. Just as fornication is sinful, but that does not make any fornication an adultery. And, as the dear @maryh has mentioned, at least the legal formulation is “a man and a man” or “a woman and a woman”, without any reference to sexual nature (while the law on marriage does have a reference to sexual nature, along the line of “husband and wife owe to each other the marital relationship. This debt is not subject to enforcement by legal action”).]

  41. Magash says:

    From everything I have seen the Boston Archdiocese is a mess. However it is not a mess that was created by Cardinal O’Malley, and from what I’ve seen from outside the diocese no matter who was saddled with it, be he a combination of Solomon and Leo the Great, he would be open to criticism by somebody. Like most northern diocese it has too many parishes for the practicing Catholic population. In most places this is true there is a great outcry by people who won’t pay enough to support their parishes, but won’t let them be closed down either. The diocese was also saddled with a huge debt due to previous Archbishops handling of the sex-abuse crisis. I suspect, but do not know, that the diocesan offices are riddled with soft Catholic liberals and perhaps even the parishes with heretical priests.
    While it’s edify to think of a militant bishop coming in and cleaning house, in reality to do so would probably require closing even more parishes and loads of negative publicity and front page and local TV news fights over every priest relieved and sub-director of discussions with heretical groups. This general means a long public fight that means that the archbishop can’t concentrate on anything else.
    I’m glad to hear that the Cardinal started with the seminary. That is the place to start. We should remember that while today is important, that tomorrow is even more important. If the new priests are solid the passage of time will cure much. We run a marathon not a sprint.

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