Today, Pope Francis followed through on his early post-election hints at reform in the Church. In a communique issued this morning, the Holy Father appointed eight cardinals from around the world to a permanent advisory group to counsel him on running the Catholic Church and reforming the Vatican Curia. This is a major announcement of great impact and gives indication that the way the papacy functions will shift under Pope Francis. Respected sources say that the idea to form the counsel came from the concerns and observations voiced by the cardinals during pre-Conclave meetings.
I’m elated to see that there is one cardinal named from the United States (Card. Sean Patrick O’Malley. O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Boston) and another named who is a member of the Institute of Schoenstatt Fathers (Card. Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, Archbishop Emeritus of Santiago de Chile). I’m having a personal little glee party here, since I’ve been a member of the Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt since childhood. I know I’m not being perfectly objective here, but, hey, this is a blog not a news site. You can gloat, too, if you’re a member of a religious order or ecclesial movement and spot a cardinal on the counsel from your “home turf.” Post it in a comment, and we’ll all celebrate with you (promise!). This is a monumental moment in the Church!
Anyway, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the eight chosen for the advisory group are:
Card. Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Governatorate of Vatican City State;
Card. Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, Archbishop emeritus of Santiago del Cile (Chile);
Card. Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay (India);
Card. Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of München und Freising (Germany);
Card. Laurent Monswengo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo);
Card. Sean Patrick O’Malley. O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Boston (U.S.A.);
Card. George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney (Australia);
Card. Oscar Andrés Maradiaga Rodríguez S.D.B., Archbishop of Tegucigalpa (Honduras);
Mons. Marcello Semeraro, Bishop of Albano, Council secretary.
The appointment of the advisory group, and the fact that it comes so soon after Pope Francis’ election tells me two things:
1. Pope Francis did not enter his papacy with blinders on.
2. Pope Francis is not the kind of person to allow dust to grow under his feet.
I have loved all the popes that have held the papacy during my life (this is #6 – good grief that makes me feel old!), but I am especially grateful to Pope Francis for rolling up his sleeves and taking on the tough stuff head-on. All of the popes have had something vital to contribute, but at this moment in time, according to my humble opinion, we need a courageous man who will address the issues that block the Church from fully becoming what she could and should be. I am positive that our Catholic faith is the one, true faith (don’t take that as a cut to ecumenism) and that the Catholic Church is the only one to which I ever could give my allegiance. On the other hand, I also am positive that the Church is made up of human beings affected by original sin, and that means things can be less than perfect and sometimes, as it’s been in centuries past, pretty prickly.
We’ve been experiencing one of those less-than-perfect-nearly-prickly times in our Church. Pope Francis appears to me to have the healing balm to soothe the prickles.
Sources: NewsMax.com, Vatican Radio.com, Vatican News Today