Vatican City, 30 September 2013 (VIS) – The first of three meetings between Pope Francis and the Council of Cardinals, instituted by the Holy Father's Chirograph of 28 September, will take place tomorrow, 1 October.
The council is composed of Cardinals Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State; Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop emeritus of Santiago de Chile, Chile; Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, India; Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; Sean Patrick O'Malley O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Boston, USA; George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia; Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in the role of coordinator; and Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy, in the role of secretary.
During the three days the Council will meet in the private library of the third loggia in the papal apartment, and the working sessions will take place in the morning and in the evening. The Holy Father will participate, except on Wednesday morning during the general audience, explained the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., who went on to clarify that the conversations will be private, so no communication is to be given at the end. He also emphasised that, as stated in the Chirograph published today, the Pope reserves the faculty of configuring the Council in the most suitable form, and may therefore increase the number of members.
He also observed that all the members of the Council, with the exception of the Secretary and Cardinal Bertello (who represents the Curia) are archbishops with large dioceses and in most cases with broad pastoral experience. “The institution of the Council of Cardinals”, he said, “is a further enrichment provided by the Pope to the governance of the Church”, and recalled that during his pontificate Francis has frequently made use of consultation, as is demonstrated by the case of the meeting with the heads of the dicasteries and his interest in reviving the working method of the Synod.
The Council has no relation with other Church institutions and is not an element of the architecture of the latter, but rather an organ of consultation for the Pope, Fr.Lombardi continued, explaining that since the announcement in April of the institution of a group of eight cardinals to assist the Pope in the governance of the Church, the members have received suggestions and proposals in their respective areas of competence. Furthermore, in preparation for the October meeting, contributions of various types have been sent to the Pope, the opinions of the heads of dicasteries have been sought, and the Secretary of State and College of Cardinals have been consulted. “The Council has eighty documents that have been circulated amongst its members, and the secretary, Bishop Semeraro, has prepared a comprehensive synthesis. Similarly, over these months the members have have also spoken with each other and on occasion with the Holy Father".