VATICAN CITY — The eight cardinals Pope Francis has chosen to advise him on Church governance and reform of the Curia come from a variety of backgrounds and countries, bringing with them diverse views and realms of experience.
Paolo Gherri, a professor of theology and canon law at the Pontifical Lateran University, told Catholic News Agency April 16 that he believes it is significant that only one adviser is Italian and all advisors are residential archbishops who do not work in the Roman Curia.
Gherri said the announcement of the advisory council shows that there is “a sort of think tank working on new guidelines of ecclesiastical policy.”
Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy — the group’s secretary — said that the choice of advisers from various parts of the world allows for “enriching and amplifying the forms of communion in the highest echelons of the Church institutions,” The Washington Post reports.
The Roman Curia is the Vatican-based administration that helps the Pope carry out his ministry. It has long been the target of criticism for inefficiency and is sometimes accused of corruption.
Though Italians traditionally have disproportionately high representation in the Curia, only one of Pope Francis’ advisors is from Italy: Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello.
Cardinal Bertello is president of the Vatican city state governorate and a former apostolic nuncio to Rwanda, to the United Nations in Geneva, to Mexico, to Italy and to San Marino. He has been a cardinal since June 2012.
The only other adviser from Europe is Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising in Germany. He is the current president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community.
A cardinal since November 2010, he has served on the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
Two advisers come from the English-speaking world.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston has spent much of his time as archbishop of Boston helping the archdiocese to recover from the clergy sex-abuse scandals that led to the resignation of his predecessor. He has been a cardinal since March 2006.
He is a member of the Congregation for the Clergy and of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia, has served on the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and has been a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. He has been a cardinal since October 2003.
In addition, two of the advisers are from Latin America.
Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa is archbishop emeritus of Santiago, Chile. He was president of the Latin-American Episcopal Council (CELAM) from 2003-2007 and a past superior general of the Schönstatt Movement. He has been a cardinal since 2001 and has served on the Pontifical Council for Culture and on the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
He is joined by Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Cardinal Maradiaga is a member of the Salesian religious order. He was president of CELAM from 1995-1999 and is currently the president of the Episcopal Conference of Honduras.
He has served on the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
In June 2007, he was elected president of Caritas Internationalis, a Catholic charitable agency that performs relief work around the world. He became a cardinal in February 2001.
The lone Asian voice on the council is Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, India. He has been a cardinal since 2008 and heads the Asian bishops’ conference. He has served on the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Council for Social Communication.
The final adviser comes from Africa: Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, the archbishop of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A cardinal since November 2010, he has served on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
The advisory group will hold its first meeting Oct. 1-3. It will have no legislative ability, but it will serve in an advisory capacity about Curial issues.