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Results from cardinals' review of Curia not expected until 2015.

VATICAN CITY * The Vatican in April downplayed the progress of the select group of cardinals advising Pope Francis on reforming the governance of the Catholic church, saying not to expect final results until 2015.

In its previous meetings, the council has reviewed the work of Vatican congregations, with much emphasis on reforming financial structures. The council will now shift its attention to studying the 12 pontifical councils, a Vatican statement said.

"The work to be done is still much, so it should not be expected that it will be completed in the current year, but in the following," the Vatican said in a statement April 29 regarding the work of the Council of Cardinals. The group met for the fourth time at the Vatican April 28-30.

Francis established the council last year to "study a project of revision" of the Vatican's bureaucracy, appointing eight cardinals from six continents to advise him. Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga is the group's coordinator; Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley is its only participant from the United States.

The work of the council has raised much speculation over how Francis will reform the Vatican bureaucracy, known as the Roman Curia.

Following their last meeting, held in February, Francis announced a sweeping reorganization of the church's financial structures, creating a new central office for financial matters called the Secretariat for the Economy. Sydney Cardinal George Pell, a member of the Council of Cardinals, was appointed to lead that office.

The cardinals' group also previously advised Francis to set up a commission tasked with advising the pope on safeguarding children from sex abuse and working pastorally with abuse victims. At press time, that commission was to meet for the first time May 1-3.

The Vatican's April 29 statement said the cardinals' group met April 28 with Joseph F.X. Zahra, the head of a separate office Francis established last July to study the Vatican's organizational and economic problems.

The cardinals, the statement said, heard a report from Zahra "about some of the business areas" his Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See has examined.

The cardinals have also now turned their attention to studying each of the pontifical councils. The Vatican bureaucracy is split between 12 councils and nine congregations. Congregations are normally considered more powerful, as they handle matters like church doctrine and appointment of bishops. Examples of councils are the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

"After having reviewed, in the previous meetings, the congregations of the Roman Curia, the council is now taking into consideration the Pontifical Councils, first with general reflections and then individually" the Vatican statement reads.

"It is to be expected that in the course of this meeting it will complete an initial review of considerations on the Pontifical Councils."

A separate Vatican statement April 30 said the cardinals' group met April 29 with Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, head of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. That office is preparing for October's global meeting of bishops at the Vatican on family issues.

The April 29 statement also said Pell's new economic secretariat would meet for the first time May 2 with the Council for the Economy, a group of eight prelates and seven lay experts appointed by Francis to advise Pell.

Speaking in a short briefing with reporters April 29, Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said not to expect much from that meeting as it is "only the first" for the group.

Lombardi said in a short briefing April 30 that Francis was expected to greet both the economic council and the sex abuse commission during their early May meetings, but that the pontiff would not stay for the duration of the events.
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Title Annotation:WORLD
Author:McElwee, Joshua J.
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Geographic Code:4EXVA
Date:May 9, 2014
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