Eight cardinals, representing all the continents, will serve to advise the Pope in “the government of the universal Church” and will “study a plan for revising” the Curia, the Vatican announced April 13.
Those selected for the group are Cardinals Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Vatican City State governate; Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, Archbishop emeritus of Santiago, Chile; Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, India; Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, United States; George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia; and Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy will serve as the group’s secretary. Bishop Semeraro and Pope Francis worked together and got to know each other well when they facilitated the 2001 Synod of Bishops on the topic of bishops as messengers of the Gospel in the new millennium.
This announcement of the group comes one month after the Holy Father’s election, the Vatican press office director Father Federico Lombardi noted during an April 13 briefing.
He said that the decision shows that Pope Francis “listens attentively” to suggestions of the College of Cardinals.
The group will hold its first meeting Oct. 1-3, though the Pope is already in touch with all the appointed cardinals.
The group will not have any legislative ability, but will rather serve to advise the Holy Father on governing the Church and revising Blessed John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, "Pastor Bonus."
"It is a group, not a commission, committee, or council," Fr. Lombardi stressed.
"The group has no legislative power and its main function is to advise the Pope. The group will not in any way interfere in the normal functions of the Roman Curia, which helps the Pope in the daily governance of the Church."
Updated April 15, 2013 at 11:32 a.m. Rome time. Adds quotes from Father Lombardi in paragraph 10, explanation of familiarity between Pope and Bishop Semeraro.
In response to suggestions during talks leading up to the papal conclave, Pope Francis has appointed eight cardinals to advise him on governing the Church and reforming the Curia.