Pope, cardinal advisers tackle status of bishops’ conferences

Meeting Feb. 26-28 at the Vatican, the international Council of Cardinals — the so-called C9 — advising Pope Francis on Church government and curial r

Mar 08, 2018

By Nicolas Senèze,
Meeting Feb. 26-28 at the Vatican, the international Council of Cardinals — the so-called C9 — advising Pope Francis on Church government and curial reform, discussed the issue of the status of episcopal conferences.

“First, this involved re-examining Pope John Paul II’s 1998 motu proprio Apostolos Suos in the spirit of healthy decentralisation that Pope Francis has often encouraged,” said Greg Burke, the Holy See press office director.

The aim of Apostolos Suos was to define the juridical and theological nature of episcopal conferences.

However, in his exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis said that “this desire has not been fully realised, since a juridical status of episcopal conferences, which would see them as subjects of specific attributions, including genuine doctrinal authority, has not yet been sufficiently elaborated.”

Pope Francis also criticised “excessive centralisation [which], rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church’s life and her missionary outreach.”

The cardinals heard from Archbishop Jan Romeo Paw?owski, head of the new third section of the Secretariat of State, which is dedicated to diplomatic personnel.

In addition, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich presented a report on the Council for Economy’s work on establishing a “management centre” for the human resources of the Holy See.

The C9 looked at the work done by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with a view to simplifying the procedures for dealing with sexual abuse, of which around 800 dossiers are currently under investigation.

Cardinal Peter Turkson provided an initial progress report on the establishment of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

Finally, the C9 continued its reflection on proposed reforms of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

The latter was founded in 1622 to deal with “mission territories” and manages most dioceses in Africa, Asia and Oceania.

However, the cardinals discussed the relevance of continuing to maintain this territorial division.

“Why is Africa a mission territory and not the Netherlands or France?” asked Vatican expert Andrea Tornielli.

The C9 is now examining several options. One of these is to maintain the traditional areas of competency of the Propaganda Fide, the earlier name for the congregation.

Another is to attach it to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation, created by Pope Benedict XVI, to form a vast missionary dicastery. --LCI (international.la-croix.com)

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