“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.
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.
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.
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
“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
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.