The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., gave a briefing on July 10 on the work of the tenth meeting of the Council of Cardinals, which began on Monday and concluded this morning in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. The Holy Father attended all the sessions, both morning and afternoon, on Monday and Tuesday; however as usual he did not participate in this morning’s session due to the Wednesday general audience.
Cardinal Laurent Mosengwo Pasinya was unable to attend the meeting.
The first day was dedicated largely to the examination of the draft Preamble of the new Constitution, which will be further elaborated.
With regard to financial and economic reform, Cardinal Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, presented a report with updated information on the financial reforms. He mentioned the appointment of the new Auditor General, the approval of the new Statute for Pension Funds and the completion of the list of bodies subject to the control and supervision of the Council for the Economy, in accordance with its Statutes. He also referred to three new initiatives of the Council for the Economy, constituting three working groups: one for the analysis of income and investments; one for human resources management, and a third for the study of the existing IT systems, their compatibility and their efficiency. He concluded by reporting on the progress of the various current activities of the Secretariat for the Economy.
In the afternoon session of 8 June 2015, the Council of Cardinals received a report from Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, OFM Cap. with a proposal for the Holy Father regarding allegations of the abuse of office by a bishop connected to the abuse of minors, originally prepared by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Cardinal O’Malley’s report also included a proposal regarding allegations of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by clergy.
For each proposal, the report indicated the general terms which define it, issues relating to procedure and to the competent Tribunal, as well as the advantages of the proposal compared with other possible solutions. The text concludes with a list of five specific proposals made to the Holy Father, which are listed below. It is proposed that:
- because the competence to receive and investigate complaints of the episcopal abuse of office belongs to the Congregations for Bishops, Evangelization of Peoples, or Oriental Churches, there is the duty to report all complaints to the appropriate Congregation;
- the Holy Father mandate the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to judge bishops with regard to crimes of the abuse of office when connected to the abuse of minors;
- the Holy Father authorize the establishment of a new Judicial Section in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and appointment of stable personnel to undertake service in the Tribunal. The implementation of this decision would follow consultation with the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;
- the Holy Father appoint a secretary to assist the prefect with the Tribunal. The secretary will be responsible for the new Judicial Section and the personnel of the section will also be available to the prefect for penal processes regarding the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by clergy. This appointment will also follow the consultation with the prefect of the Congregation;
- the Holy Father establish a five-year period for further development of these proposals and for completing a formal evaluation of their effectiveness;
- The Council of Cardinals agreed unanimously on these proposals and resolved that they be submitted to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, who approved the proposals and authorized the provision of sufficient resources for this purpose.
In the morning of 9 June the Council of Cardinals heard a report given by Msgr. Dario, Vigano, director of the Vatican Television Centre and president of the Commission for Vatican communications instituted by the Holy Father Francis on 23 April 2015 (made public on 30 April), and expressed its unanimous approval of the feasibility study conducted by the same Commission.
Starting from the analyses and reports of McKinsey and the previous commissions (COSEA and the Vatican Media Commission chaired by Lord Chris Patten), the current Commission presented a plan for reform to be implemented over a four-year period, ensuring the protection of staff and a gradual integration of institutions. These are the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Holy See Press Office, Vatican Radio, the Vatican Television Centre, the Osservatore Romano, the Photographic Service, the Vatican Publishing House, the Vatican Typography and the Internet Office.
The Council of Cardinals expressed a positive judgment to the Holy Father, also in relation to the expected time span. The constitution of the dicastery will be drafted, and the necessary appointments made during the coming months to enable the process to be initiated. The Commission is currently continuing its work, which has yet to be completed.
On Wednesday morning, the Council heard a communique from Fr. Michael Czerny of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace” regarding the Holy Father’s new encyclical and the preparation for its publication. Fr. Czerny explained that, at the Pope’s behest, emails will be sent, introduced by a letter from Cardinal Turkson, to inform ordinaries throughout the world of the upcoming publication of the encyclical and to provide suggestions and assistance on the teaching and previous interventions by the Pope on the theme of the environment. It is hoped that this will allow individual bishops and episcopates to prepare for the new document and to accompany it with appropriate explanations and comments, so as to ensure that the publication of the encyclical is experienced as an important event in the life of the universal Church and in communion with the Holy Father.
The next meeting of the Council of Cardinals is scheduled for 14 to 16 September.