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Vatican Spokesman Says Cardinals Discussing Possible New Congregation

Father Federico Lombardi Briefs Journalists on Extraordinary Consistory

While warning that nothing is finalized, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, has said that cardinals are discussing the possibility of adding a new congregation for the laity and at least part of dicastery dedicated to the environment.

During a briefing held this afternoon in the Holy See Press Office, the Vatican spokesman said that following their plenary assembly which ended yesterday afternoon, the Council of Nin Cardinals, also known as the C9, are presenting and sharing what it has done and its Curia-related reflections with the College of Cardinals, who will be meeting today and tomorrow.

This two-day Extraordinary Consistory will be followed by the consistory for the creation of new cardinals on Saturday and Sunday. This marks the second consistory under Pope Francis’ pontificate.

Father Lombardi noted there were multiple interventions—primarily from cardinals relatively familiar with the Curia, and reiterated that Pope Francis and the Council of Cardinals are continuing to discuss Curial reform, but noted that no decisions have been made yet.

He also reaffirmed that cardinals were hearing proposals for establishing two new congregations: one which would be Charity, Justice and Peace, and the other the Pontifical Congregation for Laity, Family, and Life.

Within the Charity, Justice and Peace proposed congregation, Fr. Lombardi noted, the cardinals heard of a proposal to put a new office for ecology within it.

This same congregation would include migrants & refugees, health care and this new office related to protecting the environment.

The Vatican Press Office director noted that another proposal was to create a Congregation for the Laity, just as there already are congregations for bishops, clergy and religious.

Already in existence is the Pontifical Council for the Laity. The difference, however, would be that the pontifical councils are more pastoral, whereas a congregation has more authority and can make formal acts in a way a council cannot.

Although a congregation devoted to laity is being considered, Father Lombardi noted that it is very unlikely that laity would head congregations in the reformed Curia.

At the start of his briefing on the opening session of Extraordinary Consistory, Fr. Lombardi said that some 165 cardinals are to attend the consistory on Saturday and that a few more are expected to arrive. He also said that some couldn’t travel here due to age, illness, or geographic location.

The initial meeting of the Extraordinary Consistory, Fr. Lombardi said, focused on Curia reform and included interventions by Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga and Bishop Marcello Semeraro, the secretary of the C9.

Bishop Semeraro spoke to cardinals on the C9’s discussions held during its several sessions and underscored that the process of reforming the Apostolic Constitution, Pastor Bonus, was very complex and would take time.

In addition, Fr. Lombardi reminded the press that Pope Francis addressed the College of Cardinals at the opening session of the Extraordinary Consistory.

About Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is a Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in four languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight, and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, and EWTN. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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