Pope Francis: Six months of prayer and action

    Earlier this month, we celebrated the six-month anniversary of Pope Francis’ election. What stands out to you the most about his papacy?
    What is most striking to me is how prayerfully Pope Francis leads by example. He is calling us all to grow closer to God by putting our faith into action and teaching us to do it by example. Whether it is walking the streets of slums in Brazil, driving his own car or making “cold calls” to people who write to him asking for prayers and guidance, Pope Francis is reminding us that we are to be the hands and face of Christ to those in need and truly everyone we meet.
    Many even in the secular media credit Pope Francis with bringing non-practicing Catholics back to the church. What are your thoughts on this?
    I pray daily that those who have left the church will return to Mass and the celebration of the sacraments. I know Pope Francis’ energy and his spirit of evangelization, and as I stated before, his teaching by example speaks to people’s hearts. I hope that when people return to Mass they find that same spirit and feel welcome in our church parishes.
    Pope Francis took very little time to make changes. In April, soon after his election, he announced he was forming a committee of cardinals to make plans to reform the Curia. Could you explain what the Curia is and what this committee is being charged to do?
    The Roman Curia is essentially the departments of the Vatican. Just as we have departments and offices to carry out certain functions and ministry here in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the departments of the Curia carry out the ministry and operations of the Vatican and global Catholic Church. Recently, critics have said there is not enough transparency in the Curia and that it has become too bureaucratic. This even came up during the conclave to elect the new pope. In response, Pope Francis has formed a committee of eight cardinals to advise him on reforms of the Curia, which will hold its first meeting Oct. 1-3 in Rome. Leading up to meeting with the committee, Pope Francis has met with each leader of the curia offices independently and just last week he held a “listening session” with some of the highest-ranking Vatican officials to hear their concerns and suggestions before convening the eight-cardinal committee in October. The committee will advise Pope Francis on governing the universal Catholic Church and study plans for revising the Apostolic Constitution.
    Who are the cardinals serving on the committee?
    Members of the committee are Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Governorate of Vatican City; Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop emeritus of Santiago, Chile; Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, India; Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Painya of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; Cardinal Sean O’Malley, O.F.M., of Boston; Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia; and Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. It is a diverse group from all across the globe, and only one cardinal on the committee currently works in the Curia, so I imagine there will be many ideas and good discussion from this group.
    In his six months as pope, Pope Francis has made headlines for his unscripted comments and recently there were comments made by Vatican Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin about priestly celibacy that made headlines. Can you talk about what was said and what it might mean?
    What Archbishop Parolin was quoted as saying was that priestly celibacy is not dogma of the church, and, therefore, it can be discussed. Dogma is an article of faith revealed by God which we as Catholics must believe and, simply stated, is not up for discussion. It’s important to note that even today exceptions can be made to the celibacy rule, particularly in cases of Roman Catholic priests who are converts from the Episcopal, Anglican and Lutheran churches, illustrating that priestly celibacy is not dogma. Priestly celibacy as a disciplinary rule is a deeply entrenched Roman Catholic tradition and has been firmly in place since the early Middle Ages. While Archbishop Parolin’s comments may be interpreted by some to open up new dialogue on the subject, it does not change anything about current church teaching nor did it signal any official movement of the Holy Father of the Vatican on this issue.
    Questions for Archbishop Aymond can be sent to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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