Council of Cardinal Advisers

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The Council of Cardinal Advisers, formally the Council of Cardinals, is a group of nine Roman Catholic cardinals appointed by Pope Francis to serve as advisers to the pontiff exactly one month after his election, 13 April 2013. The Council was formally established on 28 September.[1][2]

The nine advisers are:

The group is coordinated by Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga.[3] The secretary of the group is Bishop Marcello Semeraro, bishop of Albano. The Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State appointed by Pope Francis, became the ninth member of the Council of Cardinal Advisers in July 2014.[4]


The group of eight cardinals have a broad remit "to advise him in the government of the universal church and to study a plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Pastor Bonus." Said to have been inspired by "a suggestion that emerged during the General Congregations preceding the Conclave," as relayed in the move's formal notice.[5]

The council had its first meeting on 1–3 October. In a statement released after the close of the meeting, The intention of the cardinals is to emphasise the nature of the service on the part of the Curia and the universal and local church “in terms of subsidiarity, rather than the exercise of centralised power. The intended direction would be to put this into practice in the service of the Church in all her dimensions”. Another important theme was the nature and functions of the Secretariat of State, which “should be the secretariat of the Pope; the word State should not give rise to doubt. This body serves the Pope in the governance of the universal Church”. The Council will address the matter of relations between the heads of the dicasteries and the Pope, and co-ordination between the various bodies. “In this context, mention was made of the role of a 'Moderator Curiae' (Moderator of the Curia), and the functions of such a figure. The issue was touched upon but no decision has been made as to whether it will form part of the new constitution; however, it is in fact one of the hypotheses suggested by the Council”.[6]

The Council had its second meeting from 3–5 December, discussing, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, entering fully into their in-depth task, not limited to retouches or minor improvements. The revision of Pastor Bonus is substantial, to the extent that it may be considered as a new constitution for the Curia.[7]

The third meeting was held from 17–19 February 2014, where matters regarding the economic and administrative sectors were considered, shortly before the consistory for the creation of new cardinals and the meeting of the Synod council.[8] In a press release it was noted that "Archbishop Pietro Parolin, secretary of State and future cardinal, was and will continue to be present".[9]

In the morning of 17 February, the representatives of the Commission for Reference on the Organisation of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA)[10] with three members of the Commission were present, Josef F.X. Zahra, the secretary Msgr. Lucio Vallejo Balda and Joachim Messemer. The work carried out during the eight months since the creation of this body was presented with no decisions taken. On Tuesday 18 February, the Commission for Reference on the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) was heard. On Wednesday 19 February the Council continued without Pope Francis who held his usual general audience. The cardinals of the so-called "Council of Fifteen" instituted by John Paul II and responsible for the general consolidated financial statement of the Holy See and the Governorate of Vatican City State met with the eight cardinals.

During the meeting from 28 to 30 April, as well as the eight cardinal members of the Council, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin participated regularly. The Council heard a report from the president of the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organisation of the Economic-Administrative Structures of the Holy See (COSEA), Joseph F.X. Zahra, in relation to some of the areas of activity within its remit. Following its review in previous Meetings of the Congregations of the Roman Curia, the Council is now focusing on the Pontifical Councils, first in terms of general considerations, followed by an individual appraisal of each one. The Council is expected to complete a first report of its considerations regarding the Pontifical Councils during this Meeting.[11]

During their meetings from 1-4 July Pope Francis was present, and said that he would participate fully like the nine other members of the Council. There was a presentation by Cardinal Bertello of matters relating to the Governorate, and a presentation relating to the Secretariat of State by Cardinal Parolin. The issue of the structure of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) was discussed in depth. The meetings, held in two sessions, were also attended by members of the Supervisory Commission of Cardinals present in Rome, Cardinals Santos Abril y Castelló, Thomas Cardinal Collins and Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, as well as Pietro Parolin.[12] During these meetings the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family were studied in particular depth, especially in terms of the contributions and roles that should be assumed by laypeople, married couples and women. Decisions were not made, but more detailed proposals were offered that for subsequent insertion into the overall framework of the new configuration of the Curia. Other themes on which there was an exchange of opinions during the meetings include the nunciatures and their work, and the procedures for the appointment of bishops. The overall tone was described by the Vatican as “free, frank and friendly”.[13]

During the course of the meetings from 15-17 September the Cardinals had previously worked by examining all the Congregations and Pontifical Councils, but they had also assigned a significant amount of time to hearing the referring Commissions on economic and organisational questions (COSEA and CRIOR) and on matters pertaining to the economic Dicasteries. Work in this area may now be considered complete.[14] In this meeting the Council of Cardinals resumed work on the other Dicasteries. In the meantime, several contributions had been prepared by various members of the Council on the different issues within their sphere of competence, which were proposed or presented to the Council. During these days, the Council focused on two principal 'hotspots'. "The first includes the themes of the laity and the family. It is a very broad area, encompassing many issues, including for instance the role of women in society and in the Church, youth, childhood, or matters related to lay associations and movements, and so on. "The second comprises themes linked to justice and peace, charity, migrants and refugees, health, and the protection of life and ecology, especially human ecology. The Council of Cardinals, as we are aware, does not make decisions, but formulates proposals for the Pope, who certainly intends to consult in further depth. In order to speed up this new phase in the work of the Council, the coordinator, Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., has prepared an overall plan to facilitate the organisation of the contributions and reflections already offered during the previous meetings and the integration of new ones.[15]

There will be additional meetings on 9-11 December and 9-11 February 2015.