Council of Cardinals discuss new Vatican organizational chart, selection of bishops

by Joshua J. McElwee

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The nine cardinals advising Pope Francis on reforming the Catholic church's central bureaucracy have begun to organize a general overview for the full restructuring of what is commonly called the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s main spokesman said Wednesday.

Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said the cardinals are now putting together their thoughts after doing an office-by-office review of the Vatican bureaucracy in hopes of creating a new general constitution outlining a reimagined curial organizational structure.

The cardinals are working “to construct the advice the council will give to the pope in view of the new constitution,” said Lombardi.

The Council has been meeting with the pope in Rome Monday through Wednesday for the 14th of its in-person meetings. The only American serving on the Council is Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley.

Lombardi said the group had finalized pending plans for the creation of two new Vatican offices, and had also discussed the way in which Catholic bishops are chosen for positions leading dioceses around the world.

The two new offices have been spoken about for months, with one already receiving confirmation from Francis last October. That office is expected to combine two pontifical councils into an as yet unformed dicastery for the laity, family, and pro-life issues.

The other office is expected to centralize Vatican efforts on justice, peace and migration.

Regarding selection of bishops, Lombardi said the cardinals’ council reflected on what criteria are currently used to select prelates “in the light of their pastoral identity and mission.”

The spokesman said the cardinals also considered the role of the Vatican’s ambassadors around the world, who currently advise the pope on whom to select as bishop in the countries of their postings.

The next meetings of the Council of Cardinals are scheduled for June 6-8, Sept. 12-14 and Dec. 12-14.

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

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