C8Meeting for the 5th time this week in Rome, the Council of Cardinals is working on matters of Church’s governance. On many minds is the forthcoming (in 2015) new apostolic constitution replacing the current constitution, Pastor Bonus, of John Paul II. On some level the work of the Council has been seen as a mere reshuffling of Vatican offices and improving apostolic effectiveness. Or, so we are led to believe. It may sound cynical, but look at the historical reality of the Roman curia and you’ll notice some discouraging facts. You can rearrange the deck chairs but if the deeper matters are not addressed, e.g., personal conversion, true discipleship, protection of the marginalized (children, elderly, ill) then whatever materializes is meaningless. Christ asks for more than mediocre plotting and planning; the Church requires more in order to proclaim the Good News of Salvation in Christ Jesus.

As you know, the Council of Cardinals  has been known as the C8 but is now to referred to as the “C9” because of the Secretary of State Pietro Cardinal Parolin has become a key interlocutor. Jesuit Father Lombardi stated: “While before it was referred to as the C8 plus one, I can now confirm it has now become the C9 because the Secretary of State Pietro Cardinal Parolin is “systematically taking part” in the discussions held by the Council of Cardinals and is a full member.

The addition of Cardinal Parolin to the Council will be made official when the pope issues his decision in a document. Regrettable, in my opinion, is the fact that heretofore NO member of Eastern Christianity is represented on the Council. The Catholic Church is a communion of churches and the Eastern Churches are constituent. One would think with the friendship Pope Francis shares with members of the Eastern Churches there would be a Patriarch on the Council. We ought to have a C10!

It comes to mind that that there ought to be an equivalent council to the C9 made of laity. There are analogues for this idea in Eastern Christianity. Ecclesial life, not debate on dogma and liturgical praxis, needs the Pope’s consultation with laity. While the Pontifical Council for the Laity does real good work, something broader is needed.

An announcement on changes in the Pope’s curia will be made next Wednesday that will affect, in particular,  the Secretariat for the Economy and Institute of Works of Religion (IOR), AKA the Vatican Bank.

The C9 will meet 15 to 17 September, 9 to 11 December and 9 to 11 February.