Council of Cardinals speaks about decentralizing authority in the church

by Joshua J. McElwee

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The group of cardinals advising Pope Francis on reforming the Vatican bureaucracy spoke in their latest meeting about how to decentralize authority in the Catholic church and improve relationships between the Vatican and local bishops’ conferences.

The nine member Council of Cardinals spoke in their April 24-26 meeting about how the Vatican can “be more at the service of local bishops” spokesman Greg Burke said in a short briefing Wednesday.

Burke said the Council also continued its work examining the different offices of the Vatican bureaucracy, commonly known as the Roman Curia. He said they spoke specifically about the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.

Burke also said Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the only American serving on the Council, gave an update on his work leading the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

The spokesman said O’Malley briefed the pope and other cardinals about the last plenary session of his commission, held in Rome at the end of March, and about its work hosting various education seminars around the world on how to protect children from abuse.

Burke was asked if the Council had discussed the resignation from the commission of Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins, who left March 1 due to frustration with Vatican officials' reluctance to cooperate with its work to protect children.

The spokesman said O’Malley discussed “the importance of having the voice and input of victims on the commission” but “in what form is left to be seen.”

Asked how Francis conducts the meetings with the cardinals’ group, Burke said the pontiff acts as "one who listens and asks many questions."

The next meeting of the Council of Cardinals is scheduled for June 12-14.

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

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