Three Cardinals Dropped From ‘C9’ as Vatican Reform Process Nears End

The Pope sent letters to Cardinals George Pell, Francisco Javier Errazuriz and Laurent Monsengwo at the end of October to thank them for their service.

(photo: Bohumil Petrik/CNA)

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican said Wednesday that while there are no immediate plans to add new members to the “C9,” Pope Francis has released the three eldest cardinals from the duties of the advisory group.

Papal spokesman Greg Burke told journalists in a briefing Dec. 12 that the Pope sent letters to Cardinals George Pell, Francisco Javier Errazuriz and Laurent Monsengwo at the end of October to thank them for their service to the “council of cardinals” over the last five years. Established by Pope Francis shortly after his pontificate began in 2013, the “council of cardinals” — also known as the “C9” — serves as an advisory body on Church governance and reform, with special emphasis on the reform of Pastor Bonus, the apostolic constitution that governs the Roman Curia.

Francis sent the letters following a request in October from the council — which advises the Pope on matters of Church governance and reform —for a review of the work, structure and composition of the advisory group, especially in light of the advanced age of some members.

However, the Vatican stated that, “considering the phase of the council’s work, the appointment of new members is not expected at the moment.”

Over the course of the meetings, Bishop Marco Mellino, who last October was made adjunct secretary of the council, presented the most recent draft of the new apostolic constitution of the Roman Curia.

Burke said that canon lawyers are still examining the constitution, which is provisionally titled Predicate Evangelium.

The other main topics of discussion during the Dec. 10-12 meetings were the February 2019 meeting of bishops on child protection and how to reduce the Holy See’s operating costs.

Asked if, for transparency, the Holy See would be releasing any budgetary information and numbers, Burke said, “yes,” though he does not know when that will take place.

Toward lowering costs, the Vatican will take several actions, including more strongly enforcing a hiring freeze that has been in place since 2014. There are currently no plans to reduce personnel, though a reshuffle and re-outlining of job responsibilities is expected, as well as the possibility of offering early retirement.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, coordinator of the Council for the Economy, addressed the importance of making long-term plans for the reduction of costs and proposed the development of multiyear budgets for the Council of the Economy to use in five- and 10-year projections.

Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, presented the progress of the reforms of the communications department and the next steps for implementing Pope Francis’ 2015 motu proprio, which established the then-Secretariat, now Dicastery, for Communication.

Ruffini emphasized the importance of the different media outlets (TV, radio, web and social media) of Vatican Media and their cooperation.

He also explained the value of Vatican Media being present in many different languages.

The cardinals also heard from professor Vincenzo Bonomo, rector of the Pontifical Lateran University and an adviser to Vatican City State, on the new laws governing Vatican City, which were published Dec. 6.

Present at the latest round of meetings were council members Cardinals Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Reinhard Marx, Sean O’Malley, Giuseppe Bertello and Oswald Gracias.

Only Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, was not in attendance, since he was in Morocco, representing the Holy See at the U.N. discussion about the Global Compact for Migration.

As usual, Pope Francis was present for all sessions, apart from Wednesday morning, when he held the weekly general audience.

The next gathering of the council will take place Feb. 18-20, 2019.