Pope Francis ‘prepared to battle’ on Vatican reform, senior cardinal says

Print More
Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga speaks during a press conference on Nov. 3, 2015, after a conference at Fordham University on Francis’ environmental agenda. Photo courtesy of Leo Sorel/Fordham University

Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga speaks during a press conference on Nov. 3, 2015, after a conference at Fordham University on Francis’ environmental agenda. Photo courtesy of Leo Sorel/Fordham University

NEW YORK (RNS) Despite intense opposition from some conservatives and new revelations of financial scandals in the Vatican, Pope Francis is at peace with the reformist course he has set for the Catholic Church, according to a cardinal who is a leading adviser to the pontiff.

Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga also said that the latest reports of excessive spending and political maneuvering by officials of the Roman Curia only confirm the need to press ahead with an overhaul of the papal bureaucracy.

“You know, everybody that is trying to make good will have opposition,” Rodriguez said Tuesday evening (Nov. 3) after a conference at Fordham University on Francis’ environmental agenda. “The books of the Bible said, especially the Book of Wisdom, ‘If you want to follow the Lord, prepare to the battle.’ And the pope is prepared.”

“It’s a revolution going on (in the Vatican). But a revolution of love, and hope,” said Rodriguez, who heads the council of nine cardinals that Francis set up after his 2013 election to advise him. “And that’s the way it is going.”

Pope Francis' new encyclical titled "Laudato Si (Be Praised), On the Care of Our Common Home", is displayed during the presentation news conference at the Vatican on June 18, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Max Rossi *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-ENCYCLICAL-FUTURE, originally transmitted on June 18, 2015, and with RNS-POPE-ARRIVE, originally transmitted on Sept. 22, 2015.

Pope Francis’ new encyclical, titled “Laudato Si’ (Be Praised): On the Care of Our Common Home,” is displayed during the presentation news conference at the Vatican on June 18, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Max Rossi
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-ENCYCLICAL-FUTURE, originally transmitted on June 18, 2015, and with RNS-POPE-ARRIVE, originally transmitted on Sept. 22, 2015, and with RNS-VATICAN-SCANDALS, originally transmitted on Nov. 4, 2015.

As Francis’ point man on overhauling the papal bureaucracy, Rodriguez has a major role in ensuring that the pontiff’s larger reform projects succeed, and he and the rest of the Council of Cardinals are set to meet with Francis on curial reform early next month.

They’ll have a lot to talk about.

The Vatican was rocked this week by news that Vatican authorities had arrested two people — a Spanish monsignor who works in the Curia and an Italian lay woman who used to advise the pope on financial reform — and charged them with leaking confidential documents to journalists about financial misdeeds at the Holy See.


READ: Pope Francis expected to visit US-Mexico border in February, adviser says


Two books based on those leaks and other reporting are coming out this month and have created a media sensation — and evoked the sense of crisis that was characteristic of the final stretch of the papacy of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, whose retirement paved the way for the election of Francis.

On Wednesday, a Vatican spokesman said that the revelations in the books are in fact based on information that Francis himself requested in the early months of his pontificate as he sought to tackle corruption.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi rejected the notion of “a permanent reign of confusion” in the Vatican and said that under Francis the reforms are ongoing. Francis “knows the situation, he knows what needs to be done, and how to proceed,” Lombardi said.


READ: Secret ‘Catacombs Pact’ emerges after 50 years, and Pope Francis gives it new life


“That bad news might not be a source of joy is so obvious that it doesn’t deserve an official statement,” he added. “But that does not mean the pope is discouraged; he moves ahead serenely.”

Rodriguez — who said he had not yet read the two books — also said in an interview in New York that Francis will not be swayed or discouraged and will continue to clean house in Rome.

“Oh yes. Because he is a man of prayer, he is a man of God. So he is never disappointed by these things,” the cardinal said. “He’s not even afraid. He knows what he is doing. He’s not just acting without reflection, without praying over steps he is taking.”

Pope Francis leads a mass to mark the closure of the synod on the family in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, October 25, 2015. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Pope Francis leads a Mass to mark the closure of the synod on the family in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Oct. 25, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-VATICAN-SCANDALS, originally transmitted on Nov. 4, 2015.

Rodriguez pointed as well to the opposition and maneuverings that went on during the three-week summit, or synod, of international bishops at the Vatican last month. Conservatives sought to thwart discussions of new approaches to modern families, including gays and divorced and remarried Catholics.

At one point, Rodriguez recalled, he thought the pope “was going to be very sad” when it was revealed that 13 conservative cardinals at the synod had secretly sent him a letter — which Rodriguez said they had apparently been working on among themselves since August — complaining about the synod process and warning Francis against making changes in church policies.


READ: Vatican inspectors suspect key office was used for money laundering


But Rodriguez said that Francis instead answered the cardinals openly, telling them not to indulge in “conspiracy theories” and assuring them that all would be open and honest. After intense debates, Rodriguez said, the synod ended well and the letter-writers, he said, “felt embarrassed for what they did because it was useless, not necessary.”

“The church cannot go backwards because the Holy Spirit does not have a reverse, like cars,” the cardinal said. “He leads us always ahead. After this, many things have to change in the mentality and in the practice of pastors” when it comes to the divorced and remarried, for example, and others who feel outside the church’s embrace.

Rodriguez said that one speech by Francis to the 270 churchmen at the synod was key, a talk in which the pope made it clear that the hierarchy needs to be more open to debate and collegial in governing:

“It means, ‘Well, fellows, this is the way the church has to go, and let’s go.’ And it was very well-received, that speech. And it was necessary,” Rodriguez said.

As for growing calls by some Catholic conservatives, especially in the U.S., for a “battle” or a “civil war” to halt any reforms to Catholic practices and approaches on sex and marriage, Rodriguez said they had no reason to be concerned. The synod was focused on pastoral policies, not doctrinal changes, he said. And the critics should have faith:

“I say it’s necessary to be open to the Holy Spirit because the church is guided by the Holy Spirit, not by the attitudes of men, or women, or pastors of the church,” he said. “If they” — the pope’s critics — “feel that they are the defenders, remember that the pope was elected by the majority (of cardinals in the 2013 conclave) and if we believe, the Holy Spirit is guiding him.

“And so, it’s a matter of faith,” he added. “It means maybe you are fighting against the Spirit.”

Rodriguez was in New York as part of a U.S. tour on the pope’s recent encyclical, “Laudato Si’.” The tour began Monday at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and continued with an appearance at Notre Dame University in Indiana.

Another senior Vatican official the pope relies on to promote his environmental message, Cardinal Peter Turkson, was also in the U.S. this week making several appearances to rally support for battling global warming, ahead of the upcoming international climate change conference in Paris that Francis believes is crucial to beginning to change the dynamic on environmental stewardship.

Some of the most intense resistance to the pope’s encyclical has come from the U.S., and from Catholic conservatives here.

LM/MG END GIBSON

  • Pingback: Pope Francis ‘prepared to battle’ on Vatican reform, senior cardinal says | Christian News Agency()

  • Pingback: Pope Francis ‘prepared to battle’ on Vatican reform, senior cardinal says - mosaicversemosaicverse()

  • Bernardo

    Reform indeed. Tis about time the pope admits that he is not infallible in any sense of the word. He should also include in his confession that there was no resurrection and that heaven does not exist. Ditto for limbo, hell and purgatory. Now that would be reform. Details on each have been previously presented.

  • “the Holy Spirit does not have a reverse..”

    What a violent, unthinking phiosophy.

    “The kingdom of heaven advances through violence, and violent men take it by force.” – JESUS (Matthew 11:12)

  • Betty Clermont

    This information is just a google search away for papal lapdog Gibson: Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga is “the leader of Opus Dei” in Honduras which “participated actively in the 2009 coup against the constitutional president, Manuel Zelaya,” insidecostarica.com As a result, Honduras is today “the most unequal country in Latin America,” the report says, citing a litany of statistics: poverty among Hondurans has risen 4.5 percentage points from 2006 to 2013; underemployment and unemployment have also risen; the percentage of those working full time but receiving less than the minimum wage has increased by nearly 30 percent. All the while, “low minimum wages, unpaid overtime and a failure to enforce labor laws has resulted in a model that has benefited multinational corporations and continues to fail workers and their families.” ncronline.org Honduras now has the highest homicide rate in the world fueled by the drug trade and government corruption. npr.org

  • Bernardo
  • Dominic

    The Press does a grave disservice to those Cardinals they label conservatives. It may just as well call them backward lunatics for the way they describe their input in the workings of the Catholic Church.
    The Pope will never change Doctrine, but his speeches are lauded by the Press as enthusiastic liberal advances in Catholicism. Not true, the Pope is as protective of the Deposit of Faith as any arch-conservative Bishop. His call is for a more merciful approach to situations that the Church had become dismissive of. Jesus spoke with sinners lovingly, He did not tell them to continue in their sinful ways with his blessing. He offered them a new life, to follow Him.
    The Church, perhaps, became intolerant of blatant disregard of their guidance over the centuries by those who thought they had an even better truth. This is what Francis s trying to reverse….not the Law.

  • Michael Brennick

    The Cardinal has become unhinged over dark conspiracies he finds in all corners of the Church. He lashes out uncharitably in all directions. In this he is following his boss who feels that “gossip” envelops him. The Papacy of Bergoglio has been reduced to a chapter of Dostoevsky.

  • I do not like Crossan’s work. He speculates too much. There is no evidence a ‘Q’ ever existed.

    Paul’s letters describe a Christianity which was already in existence for many years – Paul only found Jesus “IN the Scriptures” which literally means he looked to Scripture to get answers about who Jesus was.
    Paul (and many of his contemporaries apparently) looked to Psalm 22 as their guide.

    The best evidence we have:
    After the sacking of Jerusalem, Mark was the first gospel (around 70 C.E).
    It is a careful mythologizing of a mystery religion. The other Gospels – even John – used Mark and continued to embroider and redact a fictional storyline.

    If a real Jesus inspired these stories that person is lost. The gospels are too carefully contrived to be trusted.

  • Bernardo

    From the referenced site:

    A translation of Matt 11: 12 by Professor Bruce Chilton:

    “And the law and the prophets were until John and then
    the kingdom of god avails itself and everyone avails himself of it. “

  • This ‘analysis’ is incoherent. I don’t see any scholarship behind it.

  • Bernardo

    Said scholars were translating from Aramaic and Greek and yet you do not consider them scholars? What languages are you skilled in so that you may refute their findings?

  • Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Holy Spirit is all powerful. Fighting against such a Mighty Force can take mortal fellowmen nowhere.

  • Bernardo

    Dr. Cajetan Coelh,

    The holy spirit formerly the holy ghost:

    A few observations:

    Matt 1:18-25: , pp. 123-124, “The fathering of Jesus from the Holy Spirit and his birth from the virgin Mary are unhistorical”. Ludemann gives a very detailed analysis to support his conclusions. One part being the lack of attestations to these events and the late time strata of said story.

    The holy spirit, another paranormal thingie seen in dreams and hallucinations as a white dove/pigeon.

    The Creed and its problems:

    “I believe in God, the Father almighty,
    creator of heaven and earth.”

    Problem: Breaking down God into three parts violates the First Commandment.