Letter #106, 2022, Tuesday, August 23: Consistory
Rumors are swirling that “something will happen” at the end of August in Rome.
What may that “something” be?
We do not know.
We do know that Pope Francis will preside over a consistory on Saturday, August 27, to create 21 new cardinals.
We also know that he will then travel to Aquila on August 28 to visit the tomb of St. Celestine V (he resigned the papacy in 1294 A.D.)
And we know that the Pope will return to Rome to meet with all the cardinals of the Church for two days, on August 29 and 30.
So, the end of the month will be packed with events, and meetings, and perhaps dense with significance.
The two-day meeting with cardinals is the only time during Francis’ nine and a half years as Pope (March 2013 to the present) that all the cardinals have met and talked in this way…
As these meetings take place, it is rumored some cardinals are not completely happy with the way Francis has been governing the Church, or has carried out his “reform” of the Roman curia — the Church’s central government.
And so it is rumored that these cardinals may express their dissatisfaction… this weekend.
Then again, they may remain silent, for all of these whispers are… “just rumors.”
Here are two articles from the Italian press (translated using a machine translation from Italian to English, so sometimes a bit unclear) and one article from Reuters on these upcoming events. —RM
Consistory Pope-Cardinals: “Something will happen on August 30” / Rumors on reform and … (link)
August 21, 2022
The rumors in the Vatican in view of the consistory of Pope Francis with the cardinals: “Something will happen on August 29-30.” Frictions on the reform of the Curia and more…
THE RUMORS ON THE NEXT CONSISTORY WITH POPE FRANCIS
“Something will happen.”
Between 27 and 30 August in the Vatican the new Consistory announced by Pope Francis will be held with the consequent College of Cardinals: well, according to various rumors circulating in the journalistic circles near the Vatican, collected and published by “Dagospia,” something between Pope Francis and Cardinals in the secret rooms of the Holy See could happen in late August.
These are not simple months for the Catholic Church: the creeping accusations regarding the investigations into pedophilia from different parts of the world, the internal difficulties with the Movements, the vocation crisis with increasingly large numbers, in addition to the difficult relationship between “progressives” and “conservatives” in the doctrinal sphere, and the knot of the war in Ukraine that places Pope Francis in the constant attempt to act as a mediator between Russia and the West.
However, the Church is first of all a “bride” and “witness” of Christ on Earth and to be that she needs faces that communicate the faith in the various world communities.
Hence the need for the 8th consistory wanted by Pope Francis (from the beginning of his Pontificate): so far the Holy Father has created 101 new cardinals (79 electors in conclave, 22 non-electors).
On May 29th, during the Regina Coeli in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Bergoglio announced the creation of 21 new cardinals for August 27th : not only that, on Monday 29th and Tuesday 30th August Pope Francis himself announced that “a meeting will be held of all the Cardinals to reflect on the new Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium.”
Passed “under the radar” in the Italian and world press, since last June 5 the Vatican has introduced a new maxi-reform of the Curia and of the world Episcopal Conferences, firmly desired by Pope Francis and which seems to have instead created quite a few perplexities within some parts of the Roman Curia.
“POPE REFORM, NEW CARDINALS AND…”: WHAT HAPPENS BY AUGUST 30
Well, according to what was gathered by “Dagospia,” precisely in the meetings with the College of Cardinals of 29-30 August with Pope Francis, something could happen: in the meantime, all the cardinals have already received a detailed report in advance, prepared by, and to be read during the Consistory by, Italian Bishop Marco Mellino.
Many — writes “Dagospia” — expected that there would be a greater collegiality in the preparation of the reform as well as for the report linked to it: “The text had already been read in the meeting of the heads of departments in June and had aroused hilarity and comments not exactly flattering,” we read in a report leaked in recent days, obviously awaiting confirmation from the protagonists of the Consistory themselves.
The greatest surprise, however, is referred to what Mons. Mellino made explicit in sending the report on the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium to the Cardinals: “after the reading there are to be no interventions or even questions.”
In the months in which Pope Francis was constantly forced to deny the hypotheses that said he was close to resigning, a reform such as this not expressly accepted “very well” by the Cardinals could represent a further complicated dialectic between the Holy See and its pontiff.
Pope Francis during his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican August 17, 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
A technical “test-run” for a future Conclave. The Pope summons the cardinals and the “crows” are lurking (link)
August 22, 2022 — 06:00
On the 29th and 30th of August, all the cardinals of the world will be in Rome. But dossiers and poisons are already starting to circulate
Pope Francis has summoned all the cardinals of the world to the Vatican at the end of August (29 and 30) to illustrate the novelties of the apostolic constitution Praedicate Evangelium, the reform of the Roman Curia, but above all with the intention of making the new cardinals, chosen by the Pontiff in particular from the most remote areas of the planet.
These cardinals rarely manage to reach Rome easily and so this will also be the right opportunity to make friends and understand how Francis, in almost ten years of his pontificate, has changed the face of the Curia, responding to a request from the college of cardinals that in 2013, during the pre-conclave general congregations, he had asked the future Pontiff to focus on this aspect.
The meetings will also serve to illustrate to the cardinals the goals achieved on the subject of Vatican finances and how the next Jubilee of 2025 will be structured. Several speakers will address the audience with red skullcaps to tell how the Curia is changing.
Coffee breaks between the various sessions, dinners and lunches in Santa Marta or Borgo Pio will be decisive: it is in these convivial moments that the cardinals will talk to each other for a long time, tell their experiences and expose their vision of the Universal Church.
The occasion at the end of August, however, also represents for some, inside and outside the Vatican, a sort of technical test in view of a future conclave, a way to understand who among the cardinals could emerge.
This aspect has somehow “reactivated” numerous sleeping crows who, finding the opportunity tempting, have already set in motion on various fronts with poisons, dossiers, tripping, agreements and trappoloni. Even against Pope Francis, to put him in a bad light in view of the consistory at the end of the month.
Precisely from abroad, in particular from the United States, numerous torpedoes have started against Bergoglio: there are those who criticize him openly, with “fraternal” parrhesia, and those who are working more secretly to have a role as a “kingmaker” in a future conclave.
On this matter, a gesture of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York who, linked to a more traditionalist vision of the Church, was notable. Dolan sent, a couple of years ago, to each of the cardinal electors a book whose title already says a lot: The Next Pope...
[Note: The book, by George Weigel, sets forth the challenges the Church will face in the coming years, which the next Pope will have to face…]
Then there is another aspect: with an almost demonic punctuality, in the last few days, and now close to the end of the month event, two cardinals, already defined by the international commentators as “eligible candidates” have ended up in the crosshairs with articles and inquiries.
One is the Ghanaian cardinal Peter Turkson (in 2013 in the middle of the pre-conclave his detractors posted “electoral” posters with his face around Rome) cited in a story involving disappeared charitable funds, and the other is Canadian cardinal Marc Ouellet, accused of “sexual assault” against a woman when he was archbishop of Quebec. Too bad that Pope Francis himself, after an internal investigation, said that there were not enough elements to open a canonical investigation. Ouellet with a press release also made it known that if a civil investigation should be opened, he intends to actively participate in it, so that the truth of the facts is established and his innocence recognized.
[End, article by Fabio Ragona]
Analysis: Pope visit to Italian city spotlights need for rules on ex-pontiffs (link)
VATICAN CITY, Aug 22 (Reuters) – Pope Francis has quashed rumours that he plans to resign anytime soon but his planned visit next weekend to the Italian city of L’Aquila will underscore the Catholic Church’s need to regulate the status of pontiffs who step down instead of ruling for life.
L’Aquila is the burial place of Celestine V, who resigned as pope in 1294 after only five months to return to his life as a hermit, establishing a papal prerogative.
Pope Benedict XVI, who in 2013 became the first pontiff in about 600 years to resign, visited L’Aquila four years before stepping down.
When the Vatican announced in June Francis’ Aug. 28 trip to L’Aquila — to attend an annual “feast of forgiveness” — it fuelled speculation that a conjunction of events — including the induction of new cardinals the day before the visit and meetings the day after on the Vatican’s new constitution — could foreshadow a resignation announcement.
However, in an exclusive interview with Reuters on July 2, Francis, 85, laughed the idea off, saying “it never entered my mind”, while leaving open the possibility that he could step down for health reasons in the distant future.
Church law says a pope can resign, provided he does so willingly and not under pressure, but it lacks specific rules on his status, title, and obligations afterwards.
Before Benedict abdicated on Feb. 28, 2013, he scripted his own rules, investing himself with the title pope emeritus, deciding to continue to wear white and to live in the Vatican.
But his presence has caused some confusion among the faithful, with some right-wing conservatives still refusing to recognise Francis as pope.
Francis wants to set rules for former popes in stone in canon (Church) law. But he is loathe to do so while Benedict, 95, is still alive as it could be seen as insensitive, according to a senior Vatican source.
Since stepping down, Benedict has occasionally allowed his views on specific subjects to be aired outside the Vatican, to the delight of some fellow conservatives who have used them as ammunition to contest his successor’s more open-minded and inclusive papacy.
RESIGNATIONS NO LONGER UNTHINKABLE
There is near universal agreement among leaders in the 1.3 billion-member Church on the need for protocols now that papal resignations are no longer unthinkable.
Cardinal George Pell, a leading conservative close to Benedict, says that while a retired pontiff could retain the title of “pope emeritus”, he should return to being a cardinal, and be known as “Cardinal (surname), Pope Emeritus”.
Pell also says a former pontiff should not wear the white papal cassock, as Benedict does. It is important for Catholics to be clear that “there is only one pope”, he told Reuters in a 2020 interview.
Academics and canon lawyers at Italy’s Bologna University say the Church cannot risk even the appearance of having “two heads or two kings” and have proposed a set of rules.
They say a pope who resigns should not return to being a cardinal, as Pell proposes, but be known as “Bishop Emeritus of Rome”. They say he could wear white “in public appearances”.
He could live anywhere but should avoid writings or statements that could be seen to be “in competition” with his successor, the proposal says.
Any papal document would likely take the form of an Apostolic Constitution decreeing changes in Church law.
Francis says that if he does resign for health reasons, he wants to be known as Bishop Emeritus of Rome. He would live in the Italian capital because “it is my diocese” and not return to his native Argentina.
He wants to live modestly in a residence for retired priests and close to a church where he could hear confessions.
Asked in the Reuters interview when he thought that might be, Francis said: “We don’t know. God will say.”
[End, Reuters report]