12 June 2017
Francis exerts papal authority requesting Cardinals inform him of their whereabouts, reveals leaked letter
The request will give Francis advance warning of any important speech or intervention from a cardinal
Cardinals living in Rome should inform Pope Francis when they leave the city and provide him with their address when they are abroad, a leaked letter reveals.
The request is revealed in a letter sent by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, who informs the prelates that it is a “noble tradition” for them to keep both the Pope and the Holy See’s Secretariat of State up to date with their movements.
“Pope Francis has recently requested of the Dean of the Cardinalatial College to fraternally remind each single Cardinal the opportunity of keeping that practice, even more so in the case of an extended absence from Rome,” read the letter dated 31 May but revealed today by Francis Rocca of the Wall Street Journal.
Those living in Rome are in charge of Vatican departments, but many are frequent travellers who fly around the world giving talks and attending major Church summits.
Throughout his papacy, Francis has sought to govern the Church collegially with his fellow cardinals, and to that end set up a cardinal-advisory body - the C9 - which is this week meeting in Rome.
The letter re-affirms that collegiality cuts both ways and requires the Church’s most senior prelates to work with the Pope and inform him of their agenda. It also reveals a Jesuit Pope showing his tough side by calmly, but firmly, exerting the authority of the papacy.
The latest reminder will have the effect of giving Francis advance warning of any important speech or intervention from a cardinal, particularly those who are his critics.
One of those often on the road is Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is threatening to formally correct Francis for watering down teaching on giving communion to divorced and remarried Catholics. Sources close to the cardinal say he always tries to accept invitations to speak abroad. In March while speaking in Springfield, Virginia, the cardinal used the opportunity to restate that he will "simply have to correct the situation" regarding allowing the remarried to receive the sacraments.
Last year, another cardinal seen at odds with Francis’ papacy used a trip to London to call for priests to face east when saying Mass. Cardinal Robert Sarah, who is in charge of the Vatican’s liturgy department, was later publicly rebuked by the Pope.
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