Little leaks from Pope’s closed-door meetings with cardinals

closed door meetings

Closed-door meetings Pope Francis had with about 180 cardinals this week focused on how the Catholic Church’s governance could be made more inclusive.

So far little has officially emerged from the meetings.

According to the accounts of those interviewed however, the pope encouraged all participants to speak from the heart.

One topic on the agenda was the newly-released Apostolic constitution Praedicate Evangelium, which Francis said reorganised the Vatican’s central bureaucracy.

He explained to the cardinals the constitution followed discussions with the various Vatican offices.

Other topics for discussion at the closed-door meetings reportedly included allowing “any member of the faithful” to head important Vatican offices, envisioning greater decision-making roles for them, including women.

Until the constitution changed, major Vatican offices had to be headed by a “cardinal prefect or the presiding archbishop”.

Participants noted that a substantial amount of time was dedicated to this change, including discussion about specifically which Vatican offices might be led by a layperson.

They said writings and comments from Cardinal Gianfranco Ghirlanda and Cardinal Marc Ouellet provided the basis for many follow-up discussions on the role of the laity during the meeting.

Ghirlanda has said in the past that the “power of governance in the Church does not come from the Sacrament of [Holy] Orders,” meaning ordination, but instead, from “canonical mission”.

Ouellet has said the pope “can also delegate and thus make members of God’s people participants in his power of jurisdiction”.

Questions were reportedly raised about the constitution’s requirement that the heads of each Vatican dicastery must serve five-year terms, renewable only once.

Some questioned whether an individual would be able to adequately grasp the inner workings of their Vatican office and execute their mandate in such a limited period.

Others reportedly noted this was necessary to help keep in check any clerical or careerist mentalities.

Some also advocated for limits to encourage global dioceses not to be hesitant in sending priests to serve at the Vatican out of a fear that they would never return home.

During the second day of meetings, a brief discussion held on the ongoing process for the 2021-23 Synod of Bishops has been reported and Francis’s emphasis on church governance through synodality.

Widespread acclaim was also reported regarding efforts to clean up the Vatican’s finances.

Last month, the Vatican made its financial statements public. New guidelines for all financial investments have also been published recently.


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