Pope makes first big decision naming advisory board

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis, in his first major decision, yesterday set up an advisory board of cardinals from around the world to help him govern the Catholic Church and reform its troubled central administration.

The eight cardinals will help him put into place changes in an administration which has been held responsible for some of the mishaps and scandals that plagued the eight-year reign of Pope Benedict before he resigned in February.

A Vatican statement said the group would “advise him in the governing of the universal Church” as well as in making administrative changes, a sign that Francis wants to consult more widely than Benedict did before making decisions.

The eight prelates come from Italy, Chile, India, Germany, Democratic Republic of Congo, the United States, Australia, and Honduras, indicating that Francis intends to take seriously calls by bishops from around the world to have more say in Vatican decisions that affect their areas.

An Italian archbishop will act as secretary of the group, which will hold its first formal meeting in October in Rome. Francis, who was elected exactly one month ago, has already been in contact with each of them, the statement said.

The group will also study changes to a constitution by the late Pope John Paul II called “Pastor Bonus”, which gave the Curia, the name by which the various departments that run the Church is known, its current structure in 1988. The last major reform of the Curia was carried out by Pope Paul VI in 1967.

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