Pope Francis adds Hollerich and four other cardinals to his council of advisers

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich celebrates Mass at the International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest, Hungary, Sept. 10, 2021 Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich celebrates Mass at the International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest, Hungary, Sept. 10, 2021. | Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Pope Francis appointed five new members to his council of cardinals advisers on Tuesday, including Synod organizer Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich and Canadian Cardinal Gérald C. Lacroix.

The Vatican announced on March 7 the nine members of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals tasked with assisting the pope “in the governance of the universal Church.”

The pope has nominated Brazilian Cardinal Sérgio da Rocha, Spanish Cardinal Juan José Omella Omella, and Cardinal Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, the president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, to be new members of the council, along with Hollerich and Lacroix.

With the new appointments, Honduran Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, 80, and Germany’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx, 69, are no longer members of the Council of Cardinals. Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, the 80-year-old retired president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, has been replaced by his successor.

The group of cardinal advisers, also referred to as the C9 for its nine members, was established by Pope Francis one month after his election in 2013 to advise the pope on the reform of the Roman Curia, particularly the new apostolic constitution, Praedicate evangelium, published last year.

The group continued to meet after the constitution’s publication and discussed the Synod on Synodality and the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors at its last meeting in December.

The inclusion of Hollerich, a Jesuit who is one of the leading organizers of the ongoing Synod on Synodality, suggests that the council will continue to have a role advising the pope on the global synod process. 

The appointment also indicates the esteem the pope has for the 64-year-old cardinal archbishop of Luxembourg, whom he appointed in 2021 as the relator general of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. Last fall, Hollerich said in an interview with Vatican media that he believes the possibility of Church blessings for same-sex unions is not a settled matter.

Three original members of the C9 remain in the council: American Cardinal Seán Patrick O'Malley, Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state. 

Congolese Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, who was appointed in 2020, will also remain in the council of advisers and Bishop Marco Mellino will continue to serve as the group’s secretary.

The next meeting of the Council of Cardinals will be held on April 24 at the pope’s Vatican residence, Casa Santa Marta, at 9 a.m.

Here is the list of the nine members of the pope’s Council of Cardinals in 2023 (new members are in bold):

Cardinal Sérgio da Rocha, 63, archbishop of São Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, since 2020, cardinal since 2016. Pope Francis hand-picked him as one of three papal appointees to the Synod of Bishops’ council following the synod on the family in 2015.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, 64, archbishop of Luxembourg since 2011, cardinal since 2019. Hollerich made his perpetual vows as a Jesuit in Tokyo, where he served as a chaplain of a German parish. He is currently the president of the European bishops’ commission.

Cardinal Gérald C. Lacroix, 65, archbishop of Quebec and primate of Canada since 2011, cardinal since 2014. He spent eight years as a missionary priest in Colombia with the Pius X Secular Institute and served as director general of the institute for nearly 10 years.

Cardinal Juan José Omella Omella, 76, archbishop of Barcelona since 2015, cardinal since 2017. He has served as the president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference since 2020.

Cardinal Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, 78, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State since 2021, cardinal since 2022. Originally from Spain, Vérgez has served in the Roman Curia since 1972 and is the first active member of the Legionaries of Christ to become a cardinal.

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Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, 63, archbishop of Kinshasa, Congo, since 2018, cardinal since 2019. He is a professed member of the Franciscan Capuchin order.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, 68, Vatican secretary of state since 2013, cardinal since 2014. Before he became the Vatican’s top diplomat, Parolin served as the apostolic nuncio to Venezuela.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, 78, archbishop of Bombay, India, cardinal since 2007. He led the federation of Asian bishops’ conferences from 2010 to 2019. Original member of the Council of Cardinals.

Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, 78, archbishop of Boston since 2003, cardinal since 2006. He is a professed member of the Franciscan Capuchin order and is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

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