Council of Cardinals Studies Suggested Amendments to Draft of Vatican Constitution

The group of cardinal advisers, referred to as the C9 for its original nine members, was established by Pope Francis in 2013, with the aim of revising the text of the 1988 apostolic constitution Pastor bonus.

A view of the Cupola of St. Peter`s Basilica from the gardens at the Patristic Institute "Augustinianum" in Rome, Italy on July 3, 2015.
A view of the Cupola of St. Peter`s Basilica from the gardens at the Patristic Institute "Augustinianum" in Rome, Italy on July 3, 2015. (photo: Bohumil Petrik)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals met online Tuesday to continue work on the new apostolic constitution to govern the Roman Curia, according to a Vatican statement.

The seven cardinals and an archbishop secretary are studying “observations, amendments, and proposals received from the dicasteries consulted in recent months” regarding the draft of the new constitution, known as Praedicate evangelium, a brief press release said.

Pope Francis also participated in the Dec. 1 meeting, connecting virtually from the Vatican guesthouse where he lives.

The group of cardinal advisers, referred to as the C9 for its original nine members, was established by Pope Francis in 2013, with the aim of revising the text of the 1988 apostolic constitution Pastor bonus.

At one of the council’s first meetings, it was decided that projected revisions to Pastor bonus would be substantial enough to warrant an entirely new constitution.

The cardinals have been working on drafting and revising the text since 2014, soliciting feedback from bishops’ conferences last year. An updated draft was presented to Pope Francis this summer and suggestions from Vatican departments are being evaluated. But the Vatican has given no projected date for the constitution’s publication.

In October, the pope named a new member of the council, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The 60-year-old Capuchin has led the archdiocese, which comprises more than six million Catholics, since 2018.

During the council’s latest meeting, Pope Francis spoke briefly, Cardinal Besungu was introduced, and cardinals gave updates on the life of the Church on their continents, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Vatican statement said. 

Bishop Marco Mellino, the council’s secretary, offered a summary of work on the constitution thus far.

In addition to Cardinal Besungu, the other cardinal members of the council are Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State; Cardinal Seán O’Malley, archbishop of Boston; Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay; Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa; Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising; and Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Governorate of the Vatican City State.

The council’s next meeting is scheduled for February 2021.

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