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Pope Francis appoints panel to reform Curia

19 April 2013

by Simon Caldwell


Ancient location: Pope Francis celeb­rates mass in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, on Sunday

Ancient location: Pope Francis celeb­rates mass in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, on Sunday

POPE FRANCIS has appointed a committee to advise him on reforms to the central bureaucracy of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Argentinian Jesuit, who was elected on 13 March after Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI relinquished his ministry, has named a panel of cardinals to advise him on how to reform the Curia.

The announcement came as the retired head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper, predicted that Pope Francis was about to embark on a "new phase" of the Second Vatican Council.

The nine-member advisory panel includes the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, and the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Seán O'Malley. It will meet for the first time, over three days, at the beginning of October.

Its remit, the Vatican says, is to advise the Pope "in the government of the Universal Church, and to study a plan for revising the apostolic constitution on the Roman Curia, Pastor Bonus".

Published in 1988, Pastor Bonus was the name given to the last set of curial reforms under Blessed John Paul II, undertaken to make Vatican departments more efficient.

The latest reforms have been prompted, however, by the mismanagement and corruption that came to a head with the revelations of the "Vatileaks" scandal of 2012 (News, 1 June).

Pope Emeritus Benedict prepared a confidential dossier on the problems of the Curia for his successor, and, in the general congregations held in Rome before the Conclave, some cardinals called for swift action to address the problems.

Pope Francis's wider agenda for reform also includes a "prophetic interpretation" of Vatican II, Cardinal Kasper said. The Pope is already "inaugurating a new phase in its reception", he said.

He told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano that the Pope "has changed the agenda: at the top are the problems of the Southern hemisphere. . .

"For most Catholics, the dev-elopments put in motion by the Council are part of the Church's daily life. But what they are experiencing is not the great new beginning, nor the springtime of the Church, which were expected at that time, but rather a Church that has a wintry look, and shows clear signs of crisis."

The Second Vatican Council was opened 50 years ago to prepare the Church for the challenges of the modern age. The emphasis was on renewal, with an unprecedented openness to other Christians and people of other beliefs.

The Council resulted in unforeseen turbulence in the life of the Roman Catholic Church, as Catholics offered competing interpretations of its meaning.

On Tuesday, Pope Francis preached on the theme of the Council during early morning mass. He noted that some Catholics were opposed to the reforms, and were trying to undo them.

Others, he said, were trying to "build a monument" to the Council, while failing to observe its authentic teachings in their lives.

"The Council was a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit," the Pope said. "But after 50 years, have we done everything the Holy Spirit in the Council told us to do?"

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