Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, briefed journalists today on the first of three meetings of the Council of Cardinals set to begin tomorrow.
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.
Fr. Lombardi also read a Chirograph, a papal decree whose circulation is limited to the Roman Curia, published today by the Holy See in which the Holy Father formally institutes the Council. The group will assist the Pope in the governance of the Church as well as to “draw up a project for the revision of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus.
The director of the Holy See Press Office said that meeting will enriches the government of the Church with a new modality of governing through consultation. “The key words to define this method of government would be ‘synodality’; to bring forward a church that walks together with its various components in the search for the will of God through consultation and patience,” Fr. Lombardi said.
In the days leading up to the meeting, several of the Cardinals have held informal meetings to prepare for tomorrow’s gathering with the Holy Father. The council will meet in the morning and afternoon for the next 3 days. Pope Francis is expected to attend all the meetings with the exception of Wednesday morning during his weekly General Audience. Fr. Lombardi also clarified that there will be no communications released after the council convenes as the discussions will be private.
During the meetings, “the Pope will make an introduction to understand and to listen to the council. There will be an opportunity for each to give their opinions and to add to their materials to integrate to the panorama of the themes in these days,” Fr. Lombardi said.
“The Council,” he continued, “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.”
Concluding his briefing, Fr. Lombardi stated that the Holy Father’s pilgrimage to Assisi on October 4th has no connection to the meeting of the Council of Cardinals. The Holy Father extended an invitation to the members of the council to accompany him but, he stressed, the meeting of the Cardinals and the pilgrimage to Assisi “are two distinct meetings.”
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