Pope discusses ‘decentralization’ of the Church with top cardinal advisors

Pope discusses ‘decentralization’ of the Church with top cardinal advisors

John-Henry Westen

ROME, December 14, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis’ Council of 9 advisory cardinals, known as the “C9,” held their twelfth meeting with the Holy Father from December 10-12, where they discussed, among other matters, Francis’ call to “decentralize” the Church. According to Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Council members emphasized the importance of the Holy Father’s October 17 discourse, on the occasion of the Commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Institution of the Synod of Bishops, where he extensively developed the theme of “synodality,” but also recalled the importance of proceeding with a healthy decentralization.

The pope said at the time he “felt the need to proceed in a healthy ‘decentralization’” of power to the “Episcopal Conferences.” “We must reflect on realizing even more through these bodies,” he said, because the “hope of the Council that such bodies would help increase the spirit of episcopal collegiality has not yet been fully realized.”

At this week’s meeting, the Vatican spokesman noted, the Council remarked on “the need to further explore the meaning of this discourse and its importance in the work of reforming the Curia, and agreed to dedicate a specific session to this during the next meeting in February 2016.”

Towards the beginning of his pontificate Francis had already called for a “conversion of the papacy” in Evangelii Gaudium and stated that “a juridical status of episcopal conferences which would see them as subjects of specific attributions, including genuine doctrinal authority, has not yet been sufficiently elaborated.”

The demand for devolution of power, including “genuine doctrinal authority” was voiced at the Ordinary Synod by those who reject Catholic teaching on human sexuality. Abbot Jeremias Schroder, who attended the synod as a representative of the Union of Superior Generals, said that both “the social acceptance of homosexuality” and the manner of dealing with “divorced and remarried persons” were examples “where bishops conferences should be allowed to formulate pastoral responses that are in tune with what can be preached and announced and lived in a different context.” The abbot alleged that such delegation was supported by a majority of the Synod fathers.

Reinhard Cardinal Marx, who is both Archbishop of Munich and Freising and a member of Pope Francis’ council of nine cardinals, has also called for more delegation to bishops’ conferences.

“We are not just a subsidiary of Rome,” Cardinal Marx said earlier this year. “Each episcopal conference is responsible for the pastoral care in their culture and has to proclaim the Gospel in its own unique way. We cannot wait until a synod states something, as we have to carry out marriage and family ministry here.”

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3 comments on “Pope discusses ‘decentralization’ of the Church with top cardinal advisors

  1. I do love the way the Lefties talk about de-centralization, de-institutionalization, becoming non hierarchical etc. – provided THEY remain in absolute control.
    This is how I see this present Pope. He talks the Leftie talk, he says he wants the local Churches to have more power – all of which is, of course, non Catholic – but he ruthlessly stamps his own authority om everything that happens.
    We are at war! The wolves in the henhouse are seeking to devour the faithful.

  2. Does anybody on this website know if the Pope’s cancellation again of a visit with Cardinal Angelo Scola is significant? Cardinal Scola is a prominent conservative. Is this yet another slap in the face to Traditionalists?

    • Pope’s rebuff to conservative cardinal stirs Vatican intrigue

      Francis’s cancellation of a trip to meet Angelo Scola is seen as latest snub for the archbishop of Milan and church observers are questioning its meaning

      Some commentators believe Pope Francis may see Angelo Scola as a symbol of the old Catholic church

      Cardinal Scola lost out to Francis when the last pope was elected, but remains a candidate to lead the Catholic church someday

      Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Rome
      The Guardian
      Tuesday 15 December 2015

      Pope Francis has always said Christians should seek out “encounters”, meetings that expand one’s understanding of the other and increase the capacity for love.

      But there is one encounter the pope has steadfastly avoided since his election in 2013. Angelo Scola of Milan, the powerful and conservative Italian cardinal many thought would be pope before the surprise choice of the Argentinian Jesuit known as Father Bergoglio, received word of the latest apparent snub last week.

      A bulletin released by the Vatican press office announced that the archbishop of Milan had regrettably been informed by Francis’s number two, the secretary of state Pietro Parolin, that Francis’s planned trip to Milan in May was off because the pope had too many commitments in Rome. Last year, Francis fell ill shortly before two planned meetings with Scola.

      The highly anticipated visit to the fashion and finance capital of Italy, which happens to be the most important archdiocese in Italy, if not Europe, would happen in 2017 instead, the Vatican said.

      It fell to an Italian newspaper – Il Fatto Quotidiano – to point out the awkward fact that Scola is reaching retirement age, after which he will serve at the pleasure of the pope. In other words, he might not be around, professionally speaking, by 2017. And while the pope might be too busy to visit Milan next year, he is nevertheless forging ahead with a planned trip to Mexico in February and is also expected to visit Poland.

      For some Vatican observers, the decision to cancel Milan was nothing but a routine scheduling decision for a pope who is busy reforming the church’s Roman bureaucracy. But Francis’s apparent reticence to grant Scola a meeting could also be seen as a symbol for everything the pope is trying to change about the Catholic church in Italy, including the Vatican’s historic cosy relationship with conservative politicians.

      “The pope does not like the idea of the church being in bed with politicians or politics. The Italian hierarchy is very … political and tied in to business and politics. Scola represents that kind of church,” said Robert Mickens, a longtime Vatican journalist and editor-in-chief of Global Pulse magazine.

      For years, Scola was considered a close ally of Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, and was seen by some as having reached a tacit agreement with Italy’s former centre-right prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi: the church in Italy would not be a leading voice on social justice issues and, in exchange, Berlusconi would respect the church’s views against abortion and other policies.

      Scola is part of what is known as the “communio” school of theology, which is named after theological journals and was essentially a conservative response to the second Vatican council, which installed a series of modernising reforms in the church 50 years ago.

      This year, the pope made two moves that defined his desire for change in the Italian hierarchy. In November, in what was described as a barnstorming speech, Francis offered a critical assessment of the church in front of a conference of Italian bishops in Florence, in which he urged them to stop clinging to conservatism and fundamentalism as a response to the problems the church is facing.

      “Christian doctrine is not a closed system incapable of generating questions, doubts, interrogatives – but is alive, knows being unsettled, enlivened,” he said.

      More importantly, in October, he appointed two centre-left clerics known as social activists in the Francis mould to two of the most important archdioceses in Italy: Bologna and Palermo. The appointment of Matteo Zuppi, who is known as the “Bergoglio of Italy”, was considered particularly striking, according to an analysis by Vatican watcher John Allen, because of Zuppi’s work for the centre-left Community of Sant’Egidio, which focuses on outreach to the poor and conflict resolution. Zuppi replaced Carlo Caffarra in Bologna, who was long considered aligned with the church’s conservative wing.

      Mickens notes that Francis could also be avoiding a meeting with Scola – still a possible candidate to replace him someday – so he does not give any appearance of endorsing the Italian. In 2013, the conservative Italian bishops’ conference was so convinced that Scola, one of their own, would be chosen as the next pope that they accidentally released a press release expressing “joy and thanks” for the Milan cardinal’s election 10 minutes after Francis made his first appearance as pope.

      “The pope is kind of distancing himself from any kind of scenario that looks like he is giving his blessing to a Scola papacy, because now people are starting to think about who might come next,” Mickens said. “He is giving a signal.”

      Austen Ivereigh, who wrote The Great Reformer, a biography of Francis, said the move could simply be a reflection that the pope – who once said he envisioned a possible five-year-papacy for himself – is now imagining himself in the role of Bishop of Rome for at least two more years.

      “I am hearing that he is saying he needs seven years to complete his five-year plan. I think that the timetable has been relaxed, so it makes sense to have a big trip – and Milan will be a big trip – later,” Ivereigh said.

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