Monday, September 30, 2013

Francis' “G8” on Curia reform to join Pope on his trip to Assisi“We will be joining the Pope in Assisi and praying with him at St. Francis’ tomb,” Vatican City Governor, Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello said, confirming his attendance on the papal trip. 

Bertello is the only Curia member among the group of eight cardinals the Pope appointed to advise him on Curia reform and church government. 

The group will be holding their first meeting in the Vatican at the beginning of October and Francis had also wanted him to join him on the papal trip to the “Poverello’s” city.

The group will go to the “city of peace” on 4 October, as Vatican Insider reported on 26 April. Some of the members of the “council of peace” are currently in Rome for the plenary sessions being held by their respective congregations. 

The group of eight cardinals who will meet in the Vatican on 1, 2 and 3 October was set up to advise the Pope and not to take decisions, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi stressed. 

He added that other meetings would follow after this initial meeting and that participants were expected to respect the confidentiality of the consultations.

At 1pm on Monday, the director of the Holy See Press Office will give a briefing on the Pope’s meeting with the group of eight cardinals, with information regarding the nature of the meeting, the preparation work around it and the time frame. 

The “G8’s” members are: Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello of Italy, President of the Government of the Vatican City State; Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa of Chile, the retired archbishop of Santiago; Cardinal Oswald Gracias of India, archbishop of Bombay and President of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences; Reinhard Marx, the Archbishop of Munich and Freising (Germany); Laurent Monswengo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo); Sean Patrick O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston (U.S.); George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney (Australia) and Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, the archbishop of Tegucigalpa and coordinator of Fransis’ advisory council.

 There is a great deal of suspense ahead of the council’s work so the Curia has warned the public to hold their horses: “This is the first of a series of meetings. Don’t expect everything all at once.” 

Is it unthinkable to supplement their work with a secular agency that is completely outside the church orbit?” Jesuit historian of Christianity John O’Malley asks in an article published in Italian news magazine Il Regno. According to O’Malley, “such an agency is much more likely to ask questions that do not even occur to church members.” 

O’Malley pointed out two issues that should be born in mind regarding “the reform of the Curia towards greater collegiality” (one of the issues that has aroused many expectations in the first months of Francis’ pontificate): First is the fact that men and women today do not easily accept the idea that what they perceive to be a distant and faceless elite body can claim the right to tell them what to think and how to behave. Second, there is the difficulty today of finding a theological justification for the Curia—or, put more concretely, there is the difficulty of finding a theologically credible connection between Peter the simple fisherman of Galilee and Peter, prince of the apostles, heading a large bureaucratic central office.”
Some of the areas that need to be remedied according to the American Jesuit and Professor at Georgetown University, Washington, include: the “lack of communication among the congregations, tribunals, secretariats and other offices within the Curia”; “the process of recruiting the personnel of the Curia, which sometimes seems to function more as a system of patronage than a system based on merit—a long-standing problem in the Curia.”; “a mechanism needs to be devised to ensure that the heads of the different bureaus are held accountable for fulfilling their duties.” 

O’Malley recalled that the doctrine on collegiality became the lightening rod of the Council. No other doctrine met more unrelenting opposition,” seeing as though “its enemies grasped its radical character and implications.” In the end, the ratified the doctrine, but only after “a higher authority” attached a “preliminary note” (nota praevia) to the “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church” (1964).” Collegiality, O’Malley pointed out “holds immense implications for the Curia” because it “means the Curia should operate not as a set of agencies in charge of the church but as agencies that serve lower agencies by helping them do what they are supposed to do.” The Secretary is the Bishop of Albano, Mgr. Marcello Semeraro, who was Special Secretary at the 2001 Synod. 

First and foremost, the group must advise the Pope on the “government of the universal Church”; second, it must “study a project of revision of the Apostolic Constitution “Pastor Bonus” on the Roman Curia”. This was promulgated by John Paul II on 28 June 1988 and split the Curia into five main sections: the Secretariat of State, whose central and pre-eminent role has given other Vatican circles many a bellyache; the Congregations; the ecclesiastical Tribunals; the Pontifical Councils and offices and bodies. 

There have been 3 major reforms in the Roman Curia over the past 110 years: Pius X’s “Sapienti Consilio” (1908) which adjusted the structures of the Curia to the disappearance of the Pontifical State in 1870; Paul VI’s “Regimini Ecclesiae Universae” (1967) which adjusted it to the Second Vatican Council and John Paul II’s “Pastor Bonus” (1988) which adjusted the Curia according to the Code of Canon Law of 1984.