The C9, the Council of 9 Cardinals who are advisors to the Holy Father, are in the second of three days of meetings in the Santa Marta residence to continue discussions on the reform of the Roman Curia and other urgent matters that may have come up since their seventh meeting last fall.

The Council, a permanent body instituted by Pope Francis, is made up of the following members: Cardinals Pietro Parolin, secretary of State; Giuseppe Bertello (the only Italian and the only Curia member in the C8 as head of Vatican City State); Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa (the group’s only emeritus member); Oswald Gracias of Bombay; Reinhard Marx of Munich und Freising (recently nominated coordinator of the Council for the Economy made up of cardinals and lay financial experts); Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa; Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston, George Pell (the former archbishop of Sydney who was recently nominated “Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy) and Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Maradiaga is also the group’s coordinator, while Albano’s Bishop Marcello Semeraro is the C9 secretary.

C9 Cardinals - ANSA

Topping the agenda during this eighth meeting of the C9, as it has most of the previous ones, is the reform of the Roman Curia, including a possible reduction in the number of pontifical councils (or amalgamating them into two new congregations), and a review of the Vatican media. Pope Francis has been present at all meetings.

Today, Tuesday, Fr Federico Lombardi, head of the Holy See Press Office, briefed journalists, and said that the first morning meeting was dedicated to the preparation of a presentation on the Curial reforms for a meeting of the full college of cardinals which will take place on Thursday and Friday this week. On Saturday the Pope will create 20 new cardinals as members of that College.

On Monday afternoon, said Fr. Lombardi, the C9 group held talks with Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, regarding the future of that office within the broader reform program. On Tuesday morning the group heard an interim report from Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Commission charged with the reorganisation of all the Vatican media offices. That 12-member Commission, headed by Britain’s Lord Patten, is expected to complete its work later this spring.


According to Fr. Federico Lombardi, head of the Holy See Press Office, the Holy See is following attentively the situations of crisis in various parts of the world, including the eastern regions of Ukraine. In the presence of an escalation of the conflict that has claimed many innocent victims, the Holy Father Francis has renewed his appeal for peace on several occasions. By these interventions, while inviting the faithful to pray for those who have been killed and injured as a result of the hostilities, the Pope also underlined the urgency of resuming negotiations as the only possible way out of the logic of mounting accusations and reactions.

Faced with differing interpretations of the Pope’s words, especially those of Wednesday February 4, I consider it useful to specify that he has always wished to address all the interested parties, trusting in the sincere efforts of each one to implement agreements reached by common consent and invoking the principle of international law, to which the Holy See has referred several times since the beginning of the crisis. As St. John Paul II often repeated, humanity must find the courage to substitute the right to force with the power of law.

The Holy Father joyfully awaits the Ad limina visit of the Ukrainian Episcopate, scheduled for the days 16-21 February. This will constitute a further occasion to meet those brother Bishops, to be directly informed on the situation of that dear country, to console the Church and those who suffer and to evaluate together paths for reconciliation and peace.


In a press conference Tuesday morning, Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, presented the “Homiletic Directory” drawn up by the congregation during the mandate of his predecessor, Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera. The cardinal was accompanied by Archbishop Arthur Roche and Fr. Corrado Maggione, S.M.M., respectively secretary and under secretary of the Congregation.

“Often,” explained the cardinal, “for many faithful, it is precisely the homily, considered as good or bad, interesting or boring, that is the yardstick by which the entire celebration is judged. Certainly, the Mass is not the homily, but it represents a relevant moment for the purpose of participation in the holy Mysteries, that is, listening to the Word of God and the communion of the Body and Blood of the Lord.”

He said that, the aim of the Directory “is to respond to the need to improve the service of ordained ministers in liturgical preaching. He noted that during the 2005 Synod of Bishops, ordained ministers were asked to prepare their homilies carefully, and basing them on adequate knowledge of the Sacred Scripture. “This is the first fact to bear in mind,” he underlined: “that the homily is directly linked to the Sacred Scriptures, especially the Gospel, and is enlightened by them.”

During the same Synod, it was also requested that in the homily, “the great themes of the faith and the life of the Church should resound throughout the year,” in order to “help demonstrate the nexus connecting the message of the biblical readings with the doctrine of the faith as expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church”.

The bishops returned to this issue in the Synod on the Word of God, and Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Exhortation “Verbum domini., While repeating that preaching appropriately with reference to the Lectionary was “truly an art that must be cultivated,” the exhortation also indicated that it would be opportune to compile a directory on the homily, so that preachers might find help in preparing for the exercise of their ministry.

Cardinal Sarah continued: “The way was thus prepared and the Congregation initiated the project,” and he underscored how “Pope Francis reserves 25 points to this theme in his Apostolic Exhortation ‘Evangelii gaudium’: 10 to the homily and 15 to its preparation.”

“The homily,” said the congregation prefect, “is a liturgical service reserved to the ordained minister, who is called upon by vocation to serve the Word of God according to the faith of the Church and not in a personalized fashion. It is not a mere discourse like any other, but rather a speech inspired by the Word of God that resounds in an assembly of believers, in the context of liturgical action, with a view to learning to put into practice the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Archbishop Roche said, “the homilist leads his brothers and sisters to savor and understand Sacred Scripture, opens their minds to thanksgiving for the wonders wrought by God, strengthens the faith of all present in that word which in the course of the celebration will become a sacrament by the power of the Holy Spirit, and, finally, prepares them for a fruitful reception of Communion and calls upon them to accept the demands of the Christian life.”

“Even if he is an entertaining speaker,” added Abp. Roche, “the homilist who does not bring about these effects will be a bad preacher. The good preacher, on the other hand, even if he is not the most gifted speaker, can do precisely these things: he can guide us to a better understanding of God’s revelation, he can open our hearts to give thanks to God, he can strengthen our faith, he can prepare us for a fruitful sacramental Communion with Christ, and he can effectively exhort us to live the Christian life in a genuine manner.

He concluded by noting that, “this text was presented to each of the Fathers of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and was reviewed and approved at the Ordinary Sessions of February 7 and May 20, 2014. It was then presented to Pope Francis, who approved the publication of the Homiletic Directory.”

He added that, while available now in English and Italian, “translations into the principal languages have been undertaken by this congregation, while translations into other languages remain the responsibility of the concerned Conferences of Bishops.” (added source: VIS)