Pope officializes Council of Cardinals to reform curia
Chirograph comes on eve of talks on constitutional reforms30 September, 16:57
Pope Francis wrote in the ''chirograph'' - a name referring to a medieval form of contract or indenture, where copies of the binding document were made and cut from the same piece of parchment - that the cardinals will help him govern the Catholic Church and revise the constitution of the Vatican City State, known as Pastor Bonus, instituted in 1988 by Pope John Paul II. The leader of the group of cardinals, to confer with the pope October 1-3, said in a television interview over the weekend that the existing system of Church governance ''is over'' and that it was ''time to write something different''.
Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga warned, however that change would take time, requiring ''long discussion and long discernment''.
''In the past the Vatican has just revised existing rules so this is a rupture after a century of increasing centralisation,'' Gerard O'Connell, a Vatican analyst at the Vatican Insider, told British newspaper The Telegraph. The pope wrote in the chirograph that the group of cardinals was an idea that ''emerged in the course of the general congregations of the cardinals before the conclave,'' and that the proposal was to create a ''restricted group of members of the episcopacy, coming from different parts of the world, who the Blessed Father could consult on an individual or collective basis on particular questions''.
Pope Francis said that the Council of Cardinals would be of ''considerable help'' in carrying out his pastoral duties, which is why he first announced the formation of the group on April 13, including the names of its appointees. ''Now, after a mature reflection, I consider that this group, through this chirograph, is set up as a 'Council of Cardinals', whose task is to help in the government of the universal Church and to study a draft revision of the Pastor Bonus apostolic constitution on the Roman Curia,'' the chirograph reads.
Pope Francis is already set to replace the Holy See's powerful Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone with Archbishop Pietro Parolin, who is currently the Holy See's representative in Venezuela in December.
Pope Francis announced the change at the end of August, but Maradiaga revealed in the television interview on Canadian programme ''Salt and Light'' that the pontiff had made his decision to replace Bertone with Parolin within four days of his election last March.
Bertone, who was appointed secretary of state during Benedict XVI's papacy, is said to have been a divisive figure within the Vatican and was widely seen as the target of the so-called 'Vatileaks' campaign involving confidential Church documents leaked to the press by the pope's butler last year.
Other changes were confirmed when the pope named a new head of the Vatican Governorate, the body that exercises the pontiff's executive authority over the city state.
Maradiaga also said the group he leads has received suggestions from all over the world, including 80 pages just from Latin America, which the group has organized by main topics.
Maradiaga said the convergence of themes was so marked, it was the work of the Holy Spirit.