Pope's new advisory group may curb secretary of state

'We must adapt to needs of today' says Bishop Semeraro

Pope's new advisory group may curb secretary of state

Rome, April 15 - The panel of high-profile, international cardinals named to advise Pope Francis in a possible shake-up of church governance may address reducing the power of the secretary of state, according to the new group's secretary. In an interview published Monday with Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Bishop Marcello Semeraro recalled that it was Pope Paul VI who bestowed "the secretary of state with supervising and coordinating" the Vatican bureaucracy known as the Curia during his 1963-78 pontificate. "But now, nearly half a century has gone by. We must readapt these structures according to the needs of the Church today," he said. When directly asked if the secretary of state would see his powers diminished, Semeraro said "the possibility should not be excluded," adding that potential adjustments would address concerns of congregational prefects, "who feel the need to have a more direct and frequent relationship with the pope". Semeraro, bishop of Albano, is not among the eight cardinals announced Saturday to "advise (the pope) on the government of the universal church" and "to study a project of revision" of a 1988 document from John Paul II on the Curia known as Pastor Bonus. The announcement of the eight cardinal advisors from all continents of the world has been viewed by Vatican watchers as a possible signal of major reform on the horizon. Only one of the men comes from the Roman Curia, while several have raised concerns over Church operations, and some were even tipped as strong papal contenders in the run-up to elect a pope last month. Two of them, Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley and Munich Archbishop Reinhard Marx, have at times been central figures in the Vatican's reaction to the priest child sex-abuse scandals. The other members are: Giuseppe Bertello of Italy, president of the government of the Vatican City State; Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa of Chile, the retired archbishop of Santiago; Mumbai Archbishop Oswald Gracias of India; Kinshasa Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Congo; Sydney Archbishop George Pell of Australia; Tegucigalpa Archbishop Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras. A Vatican statement did not disclose how the pope selected the panel or how long it will serve, but it said the idea to assemble it was put forward during a general congregation, one of the several meetings of cardinals held before the conclave to elect a successor to Benedict XVI. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state during Benedict's papacy, is said to have been a divisive figure within the Vatican and was widely seen as the target of the so-called 'Vatileaks' campaign involving confidential Church documents leaked to the press by the pope's butler last year. The panel is scheduled to convene for the first time October 1-3, and in the meantime individuals will be in close touch with the pope, the Vatican said.

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