Pope Francis named eight cardinals from around the globe Saturday to advise him on running the Catholic Church and reforming the Vatican bureaucracy, marking his first month as pope with a major initiative to reflect the universal nature of the church in key governing decisions.
The advisory panel includes only one current Vatican official. The rest are cardinals from North, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia. Many have been outspoken in calling for a shake-up of the Vatican bureaucracy, which was last reformed 25 years ago, while others have tried to clean up the church from sexually abusive priests.
In the run-up to the conclave that elected Francis the first Latin American pope one month ago, many cardinals demanded the Vatican be more responsive to their needs on the ground and said the Holy See bureaucracy itself must be overhauled. Including representatives from each continent in a permanent advisory panel to the pope would seem to go a long way toward answering those calls.
Francis’ advisory group will meet in its inaugural session Oct. 1-3.
Members of the panel include Italian Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Vatican city state administration. The non-Vatican officials include Cardinals Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, the retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile; Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Congo; Sean Patrick O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston; George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia; and Oscar Andris Rodrmguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, who will serve as coordinator. Monsignor Marcello Semeraro, bishop of Albano, Italy, will be the panel secretary.