“Francis was elected on a mandate to do this”

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, India, and a member of council of advisers to Pope Francis, says main goal of reorganizing curia is to prevent centralizing power in Rome

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India. (Credit: Paul Haring/CNS photo.)

It took 29 meetings, but the pope’s “C-9” council of cardinal advisers, which is now functionally more akin to a “C-6”, has a new constitution for the Vatican in the form of a draft presentable to all the bishops’ conferences around the world, the heads of the various departments of the Holy See, theologians and canonists.

According to a principal drafter of that document, one core aim, reflecting the electoral mandate given Pope Francis six years ago, is to combat centralization of power in Rome.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias from Bombay, India, a member of the council, was responsible for drafting parts of Praedicate evangelium, which will now be reviewed by bishops around the world who have to send their thoughts in late May, before the council’s next meeting in June.

Gracias spoke with Crux last week at the end of a meeting of the prelates, and he said fighting “centralization” was a principal goal of the drafters. The issue was discussed by the cardinals who elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio to succeed Benedict XVI, “so Francis was elected on a mandate to do this,” Gracias said.

Crux: One of the major tasks of the council of cardinals was to re-write the Vatican’s apostolic constitution. The draft is finally done. What can you tell us about it?

Gracias: We have been working on the refounding of the curia. We went dicastery by dicastery, each one of us had a section. I had the judicial section of the Holy See, interreligious dialogue and Oriental Churches. I met with the heads of each of these dicasteries, discussed the changes. We also had our own approach, we call it “the Francis touch.”

One of the things was that we didn’t want centralization in the curia, something that had come out during the pre-conclave talks, so Francis was elected on a mandate to do this. And we also tried to make sure that the curia is at the service of the Holy Father and at the service of the bishops. We consistently tried to do that. This requires a change of mentality. Another thing we thought about is the role of the bishops’ conferences in the Church.

I already met with a group of theologians twice to examine the question of collegiality, bishops’ conferences. It’s a very limited change, but it’s a breakthrough.

When it comes to the dicasteries, the Holy Father has already created the one on Integral Human Development, the one for Laity, Family and Life, one for Communications and Economy at the beginning.

The document is now in the hands of the dicasteries, the bishops’ conferences, the oriental churches and some pontifical universities. We asked for them to send their responses by the end of May, so during the next meeting we’ll go through those.

You mentioned that each one of you had a section to write, but for the past few meetings, the C9 became a C6 with Cardinals George Pell, Francisco Errazuriz and Laurent Monswengo all being out. Who wrote their parts?

We all offered our resignations to the Holy Father, ready to pack our bags, but he accepted the resignation of three. Their work was done by the time they left.

Full story at Crux.


  1. helen wheels says

    if “Peter” alone holds the keys to the kingdom,
    how can he be elected to have any pre-arranged
    mandate to do ANYTHING ???

    • I’m not following your logic helen. Are you saying that “Peter” can do anything he pleases? Wouldn’t it be better to listen to his brother Princes?

      • Anonymous says

        Here is the problem– falsely “democratizing” the role of the papacy– instead of traditional advisers to the Papacy– with Jesus Christ as the true Head of the Church, speaking through the Pope, in St. Peter’s role. The Church is not a “human” “collaborative,” or “democracy,” at all! It belongs solely to Christ! We cannot be as a “democratized” Protestant church, making decisions together on theology– for example, the doctrine of the Eucharist– Cdl. Mahoney’s blunder!– or on Christian morality– for example, gay “marriage,” etc. Obedience must be only to Christ– and the Pope must speak for Him!

    • Anonymous says

      The pre-elected mandate is DISHONEST!!! Many of our prelates do not understand nor obey, in their hearts—- the teachings of our holy Faith!! They have not given their lives truly over to Christ. They are worldly men.

      • Anonymous says

        I am afraid we are going to end up with the “Church of Cardinal Reinhard Marx” (one of the C-9)– instead of the Catholic Church, founded by Jesus Christ!

  2. Anonymous says

    No! We do not need “de-centralization” of the Curia— and some of the misguided bishops’ conferences making poor decisions individually, leading Catholics in their region into immorality, heresy, apostasy!! In every era, we simply need the successor of St. Peter, to guide the worldwide Church, for Christ! Very bad clerics — some are criminals, not even “Christians!”– picked for the “C-9!”

  3. Deacon Craig Anderson says

    The Church has virtually always had a tension between centralization and de-centralization. Think of the controversies about the Ultramontanes, Gallicans, councils and collegiality, for a few examples. Or, even those between Western and Eastern “lungs” of the Church. Of course, the bishop of Rome, the Pope, has primacy, but exactly what that means hasn’t always been clear. Some seemed rather Ultramontane when Benedict was Pope, but not so when Francis was granted “the keys.” I don’t think resolving that tension is the most critical issue. What’s most critical is fidelity to Christ and the teachings of His Church. That applies to all bishops, including the bishop of Rome, the Pope. And, frankly, it applies to all of us.

  4. helen wheels says

    a man is chosen to BE “Peter”
    it’s a metaphysical reality
    there’s NOT any agenda
    contrived by a cabal
    ecclesial or otherwise

    • Anonymous says

      even Peter sought the advice of the apostles and was rebuked by them when necessary.

      • Anonymous says

        Of course advisers are necessary! But St. Peter is always the leader. Pope Francis does not like the traditional Papal role of leadership. He also does not like Church dogma. He says he wants to evangelize– with very little or no Church doctrine. Others, like Billy Graham, converted millions — with Christian teaching straight from the Bible! No game-playing!

        • anonymous, sorry, but this fake news that Francis does not like Papal leadership or does not like dogma. Seriously, stop spreading falshoods against the Holy Father and stop the game-playing! If you want to be a protestant and follow Billy Graham, that’s your choice. But I’m not sure why you come onto a catholic website to spew your anti-catholic beliefs.

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