by MICHAEL OTTO
WELLINGTON — The Church needs to have more cardinals from Oceania, says one of the prelates closest to Pope Francis.
Visiting Wellington from October 9-12 in his capacity as president of Caritas Internationalis, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga said that during the conclave in March, there was a common feeling among the cardinals for a greater “internationalisation” of the Vatican.
“We need more Oceania cardinals,” Cardinal Rodriguez said in Wellington during a press conference with Catholic media on October 11.
He said Oceania is not Australia by itself, and the region has a wide variety of nations and peoples.
Oceania has only one cardinal — George Pell of Sydney — able to be an elector during a conclave to elect a pope. Having turned 80 in 2010, Cardinal Thomas Williams of New Zealand is ineligible.
Cardinal Rodriguez, from Honduras, is the coordinator for the commission of eight cardinals from different regions of the world advising Pope Francis on Church governance. The commission met with the Pope from October 1-3.
One of the things Cardinal Rodriguez signalled could change is time limits for service in the curia, which helps the pope govern the Church and which is the administrative apparatus for the Holy See.
“Those who are called to collaborate with [the pope] in the Roman Curia, are to serve, not make a career,” Cardinal Rodriguez said.
He suggested five or 10 year limits for service in Rome, and then a priest would return to his home diocese.
Having clergy stay for 30 years or more in the curia is “no good for the Church”, and this was a common sentiment in this year’s pre-conclave discussions by cardinals, he said.
Cardinal Rodriguez also suggested that [it] is “almost sure” that a new “dicastery” (department or congregation) for laity could be created in the Vatican. There are already such bodies for bishops, clergy and religious life, he noted. With lay men and women making up the vast majority of the Catholic Church’s members, it seems logical that they should have such a body in Rome, he said.
“Maybe that will be the line [from the commission],” he said, noting that the current Pontifical Council for the Laity cannot “legislate”, whereas Roman congregations can. Trimming back on the number of pontifical councils in Rome, of which there are 11, could also be favoured by the commission, he added.