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Pope appoints five cardinals to advisory council

Christopher Lamb - The Tablet - Wed, Mar 8th 2023

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who has served on the council since its inception, has not been reappointed.
Pope appoints five cardinals to advisory council

One of the new appointments is Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich (pictured in December 2022), the Archbishop of Luxembourg and president of the bishops’ conferences in the European Union.

Pope Francis has revamped his advisory body of cardinals by appointing five new members, including Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, one of the leaders of the global synod process

The council of cardinals was established by the Pope soon after his election to assist him in governing the Church.

It helped to produce a new constitution for the Roman Curia published last year, and is intended to further the collegial governance of the Church by the Pope with the world’s bishops.  

Besides Cardinal Hollerich, who is the Archbishop of Luxembourg and president of the bishops’ conferences in the European Union (Comece), Francis has chosen four new members: Cardinal Juan José Omella, Archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Gerald Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec, Cardinal Sergio da Rocha, Archbishop of São Salvador da Bahia in Brazil and the Spanish Cardinal Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, president of the governorate of Vatican City State. 

He has not reappointed the 69-year-old Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, who has served on the council since its inception.

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Archbishop Emeritus of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, the former president of the Vatican governorate, who have both reached the retirement age of 80, were also not reappointed.

The council has nine members. The new appointees join the Congolese Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, Archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See’s Secretary of State.

The new appointments show the Pope’s determination to push ahead with his reforms of the Church, to make it more synodal – with a strong emphasis on listening to the laity – and missionary.

Cardinal Hollerich, a Jesuit, shares Francis’ vision and has been chosen by the Jesuit Pope to serve as the relator-general of the synod “for a Synodal Church” which will include two summits of the world’s bishops in the Vatican in October 2023 and October 2024.

Francis appointed Cardinal da Rocha to the same position for the synod on youth in 2018, while Cardinal Lacroix has modelled a listening approach in the Archdiocese of Quebec, which has grappled with fast-paced secularisation in recent decades.

Lacroix and da Rocha are both members of the council of the synod of bishops, which oversees the synodal process. 

The next meeting of the council of cardinals will take place on 24 April at the Casa Santa Marta, the Pope’s residence.

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