Pope Francis tells College of Cardinals to ‘speak freely’ at first meeting since 2014

By Gerard O’Connell, 2 September 2022
Pope Francis is seen during the meeting with the College of Cardinals in the New Synod Hall in the Vatican. Image: Vatican News


Pope Francis opened a two-day meeting of almost 200 cardinals on Aug. 29 to discuss “Predicate Evangelium,” the constitution for the reform of the Roman Curia that he promulgated on March 19 and which came into force on June 5.

The last time the College of Cardinals came together for a meeting to discuss a major topic was in 2014 to discuss the family ahead of the Synod of Bishops on the Family in October of that year. This meeting is not only as an opportunity to discuss the new constitution, which will impact their dioceses, but also to get to know each other. A great many cardinals do not know their brother cardinals, and it is important that they have an opportunity to become acquainted well in advance of a future conclave. A conclave is not yet on the horizon as the pope has not given any indication that he intends to resign.

He encouraged the cardinals “to speak freely” as they discussed the text in two sessions on Monday and in a session on Tuesday morning. He made clear that he wanted them to discuss the Holy Year 2025 in the final session on Tuesday afternoon, before the Mass that he will celebrate with the 20 new cardinals at 5:30 p.m. that evening.

The first session was dedicated to discussing the introduction to the constitution. “There was a synodal climate,” according to Cardinal Juan José Omella y Omella, the archbishop of Barcelona, quoted by SIR, the agency of the Italian bishops’ conference. He said the main themes to emerge so far are “evangelization” and “how all the baptized are called to be evangelizers” and that they should do so through “acts of charity, closeness, tenderness, and especially by listening.”

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Gerard O’Connell is America’s Vatican correspondent and author of The Election of Pope Francis: An Inside Story of the Conclave That Changed History. He has been covering the Vatican since 1985.

With thanks to America and Gerard O’Connell, where this article originally appeared.


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