Francis' papacy is only six months old, so it's premature to talk about make-or-break moments. That said, the October 1-3 summit of eight cardinals, tapped by the Pope to advise him on governance, looms as a potentially critical turning point.
- John Allen, NCR
When those eight cardinals, plus a bishop-secretary, sit down with Pope Francis in a meeting room in the Apostolic Palace, the expectation is that some serious sausage will be ground on a variety of fronts:
- An ongoing cleanup of Vatican finances;
- Reorganization, and potential downsizing, of the Vatican bureaucracy;
- Ensuring that the right people end up in the right Roman jobs;
- Vexed pastoral questions such as annulments and divorced and remarried Catholics.
Dubbed the 'G-8,' the panel was announced in April and styled as a move toward greater collegiality. The American on the team is Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, joined by Cardinals Giuseppe Bertello, governor of Vatican City, Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa of Santiago, Chile, Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India, Reinhard Marx of Munich, Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo, and George Pell of Sydney. Rodríguez is the group's coordinator.
Members appear to be preparing diligently. In a late July interview, O'Malley told NCR he was interviewing all the other American and Canadian cardinals to get ideas for reform and had also written to all the North American bishops. Errázuriz conducted an open discussion in May with the Latin American bishops, while Rodríguez planned to stop off in Quebec for a listening session with the Canadian bishops before heading to Rome.
At least some cardinals also seem serious about change. In a recent interview in Germany, Marx said it's important to have a headquarters in Rome that Catholics can be proud of -- not so subtly implying this isn't always the case right now.