Pope, cardinal advisers discuss church tribunals, Curia offices

February 15, 2017

By Junno Arocho Esteves

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis and members of the international Council of Cardinals advising him on church governance discussed the functions of the Vatican tribunals that handle marriage, appeals and indulgences.

Meeting with Pope Francis Feb. 13-15, the Council of Cardinals also continued its discussion of the process of selecting bishops and received updates on economic and communication reform initiatives.  

Paloma Garcia Ovejero, vice director of the Vatican press office, told reporters the tribunals studied by the council included: the Apostolic Penitentiary, a church court that deals with indulgences; the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, the Catholic Church’s highest appeals court; and the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, the Vatican court that deals mainly with marriage cases.

Continuing their examination of individual offices, the cardinals also looked at the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Congregation for Eastern Churches and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Garcia Ovejero also read the statement that the cardinals issued Feb. 13 assuring the pope of their “full support for his person and his magisterium.”

At a separate meeting with the press Feb. 15, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, a council member, said that while the council “didn’t want to make it a great thing,” the cardinals saw the need to express their support for the pope.

“I think it was the time to repeat from our group (that) we are supporting the pope, we are going together with him,” Cardinal Marx said.

“We have discussions in the church, normal discussions, tensions; it will (always be) like this. But in a time like this, it is also clear for us as Catholics that loyalty to the pope is substantial for the Catholic faith and for Catholic believers.”

Although the statement said the cardinals’ support was offered “in relation to recent events,” no specific events were mentioned.

The statement came just a few days after a fake version of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, was emailed to Vatican officials and a week after posters were put up around Rome questioning the pope’s mercy in dealing with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and other groups over which the pope had placed special delegates.

“I will not add to it,” Cardinal Marx said when asked regarding the recent events. “We reflected (on) the sentence and so I will leave at that. We had the text and we said that’s enough. And I say today, it’s enough,” he told journalists.

The Council of Cardinals will meet again April 24-26.

In addition to Cardinal Marx, the council members are: Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Sean P. O’Malley of Boston; Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile; Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo; George Pell, head of the Secretariat for the Economy; and Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State.

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