Pope Francis has named the replacement for Cardinal Angelo Becciu at the Vatican's department of saints.
Bishop Marcelo Semeraro is to be the new Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Bishop Semeraro, 72, succeeds Cardinal Angelo Becciu who was removed from office by Francis on 24 September amid allegations of financial misconduct. Until now Semeraro had been Bishop of Albano, a diocese in the Rome province, along with the secretary of the cardinal advisory body and is a widely considered one of the Pope’s trusted aides.
He has played an important role in the drafting of a new apostolic constitution of the Roman Curia which is designed to ensure all functions of the Church’s central administration are on a missionary footing and focused on evangelisation.
Pope Francis has also rejigged his council of cardinal advisors. A prominent church leader in Africa has been named as a new member of that body.
Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, the Archbishop of Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been appointed by Francis to serve on the papal advisory council, established in 2013 to assist the Pope with his reform of the Roman Curia and governance of the universal Church.
Cardinal Ambongo, a member of the Capuchin Franciscan order, is a respected ecclesial and civic leader who was recently asked by the president of his country to lead DR Congo’s Covid-19 fund, which is part of efforts to fight the pandemic. His predecessor, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo, also served on the Pope’s cardinal advisory body.
This week the Pope took part in a virtual meeting with his council of advisers and was presented with an updated draft of the constitution, Praedicate Evangelium, or Preach the Gospel, and which has now been sent out to Vatican departments. An earlier draft was sent out to bishops conferences around the world.
The council of cardinals has been working on the constitution for several years, and the Vatican said on Tuesday that during the summer months the council was able to work via internet on the text. The next meeting of the council will also take place online in December.
The new constitution has faced some internal resistance, including its proposals to reduce the influence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and to ensure the curia works more collaboratively with local bishops conferences.
During the Francis pontificate, however, bishops from around the world have remarked on a cultural shift inside the Roman Curia which they say is now listening rather than lecturing. It means that Praedicate Evangelium will codify existing practice, with the Pope telling the cardinals this week that “the reform is already underway, also in some administrative and economic aspects”.
After it was set up in 2013, the council of cardinals contained nine members representing various part of the global Church. Following the departures of Cardinals George Pell (Australia) Francisco Errazuriz (Chile) and Laurent Monsengwa (DR Congo) the body was reduced to six but now stands at seven.
Along with appointing a new member, Francis has confirmed six others in post, including: Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga (Honduras), who acts as the coordinator, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Sean O’Malley OFM Cap (United States), Cardinal Oswald Gracias (India), Cardinal Reinhard Marx (Germany) and Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, who is president of the Vatican City State administration.
The new secretary is Bishop Marco Mellino, who is bishop of the titular see of Cresima and has been working as adjunct secretary of the body.
Francis set up the advisory body based on a recommendation which emerged during the cardinal meetings ahead of the conclave which elected him in 2013.