Council of cardinals shrinks a bit: Pope Francis has dismissed three members of his closest circle of advisers. They are Cardinals George Pell, Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya and Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa. What are the reasons?
The Vatican press office announced the decision to dismiss Cardinals George Pell, Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya and Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa on Wednesday. The three had been part of a group of initially eight, then nine cardinals since 2013 to assist the pope with leadership tasks and curia reform. German Cardinal Reinhard Marx also sits on the panel. The council met from Monday to Wednesday in Rome.
Subsequent nominations not foreseen for the time being
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said Pope Francis had already granted the three cardinals' request for release at the end of October, thanking them for their service over the past five years. According to the report, the pope pointed to the advanced age of the three as the reason for leaving the advisory panel. Subsequent nominations are not foreseen for now, he said.
Pell, however, remains head of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy, one of the most influential institutions in the Roman Curia.
Pell is currently defending himself in court in his native Australia against allegations of sexual assault against male youths in Melbourne in the 1990s. In related news, he has been on leave from his Vatican duties since June 2017.
Accusations against Errazuriz
Errazuriz had earlier announced his intention to give up his post on the Council of Cardinals. Charges of perjury and false testimony are pending against him in connection with the abuse scandal in Chile. Abuse victims accuse Errazuriz, as archbishop of Santiago from 1998 to 2010, of preventing the prosecution for years of a clergyman later convicted of abuse. He himself rejects the accusations.
The Congolese Monsengwo, the only African cardinal in the circle of advisors, had recently participated only irregularly in the meetings. In early November, the pope accepted his age-related resignation from his post as archbishop of Kinshasa.
Vatican spokesman Burke had said in June that memberships of the Council of Cardinals should probably continue beyond the usual Vatican term of five years. Francis, on the other hand, announced a few personnel renewals a short time later.
Vatican discusses savings
In addition to the personnel details, the contents of the recent meeting of the Council of Cardinals have now become known. Accordingly, the Vatican wants to save more expenses. Ways of reducing costs in the Roman Curia were the focus of the recent deliberations of the Council of Cardinals around Pope Francis. Cardinal Reinhard Marx, in particular, advocated for a reduction in current expenditures, especially in personnel.
Other topics, according to the Vatican, were a summit on abuse and prevention planned for Feburary and a new curia order to replace the previous document from 1988.
As the Council of Cardinals stressed, entreaties to cut costs should continue to be avoided. On the other hand, possibilities of transfers and early retirement are to be examined more closely. Marx reportedly proposed longer-term budget planning over five to 10 years to have a closer look at the financial situation and a larger planning horizon.
No balance sheets presented for the Holy See
In the past two years, the Vatican no longer presented balance sheets for the Holy See and the administration of the Vatican State.
Press inquiries about the relevant figures remained unanswered. Observers see this as an indication of a serious deficit. Next, 28. Meeting of the Cardinal's Council is scheduled for 18. to 20. February planned in Rome.