Decentralising church authority Council of Cardinals speaks about decentralizing authority in the church

Joshua J. McElwee, in NCR,  April 26, 2017


 James kottoor(Note: Decentralisation means transforming a “Holy Father Church” into a community, not a monarchy, of  “the people of God”. This work started with the second Vatican council and the introduction of ‘collegiality and coresponsiblity” of bishops with the Pope. They were ideas championed by Cardinal Suenens of Belgium. He even wrote a book on ‘Coresponsibility’.

                      But implementation of those ideas actually started in earnest only with Pope Francis. He conducted two family synods, which were free for all, in discussing, debating and criticizing  even the Pope in public. This was never heard of before in the Church. The wonder is Francis encouraged it and set up a committee of 9 from around the world to advise him. Cardinal of Bombay is one of its members.   

                     But there is a long distance between discussing issues and executing decisions. Hence many things discussed and decided don’t get implemented. Striking example is the resignation of Marie Collins in frustration. So patience and perseverance is the only way ahead. james kottoor, editor).


VATICAN CITY:  The group of cardinals advising Pope Francis on reforming the Vatican bureaucracy spoke in their latest meeting about how to decentralize authority in the Catholic church and improve relationships between the Vatican and local bishops’ conferences.

The nine member Council of Cardinals spoke in their April 24-26 meeting about how the Vatican can “be more at the service of local bishops” spokesman Greg Burke said in a short briefing Wednesday.

Burke said the Council also continued its work examining the different offices of the Vatican bureaucracy, commonly known as the Roman Curia. He said they spoke specifically about the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.

Burke also said Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the only American serving on the Council, gave an update on his work leading the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

The spokesman said O’Malley briefed the pope and other cardinals about the last plenary session of his commission, held in Rome at the end of March, and about its work hosting various education seminars around the world on how to protect children from abuse.

Burke was asked if the Council had discussed the resignation from the commission of Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins, who left March 1 due to frustration with Vatican officials' reluctance to cooperate with its work to protect children.

The spokesman said O’Malley discussed “the importance of having the voice and input of victims on the commission” but “in what form is left to be seen.”

Asked how Francis conducts the meetings with the cardinals’ group, Burke said the pontiff acts as "one who listens and asks many questions."

The next meeting of the Council of Cardinals is scheduled for June 12-14.

(Joshua J. McElwee is a U.S. journalist who is currently the Vatican correspondent for the independent newspaper and web publication National Catholic Reporter (NCR). His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.)

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