International News

Boston Prelate Grateful for Reappointment to Pope’s ‘Kitchen Cabinet’

Boston Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, listens as Pope Francis speaks during a meeting with members of the commission at the Vatican April 29, 2022. Cardinal O’Malley says he is grateful for Pope Francis’ “faith and confidence in my assistance” as a member of the Council of Cardinals. (Photo: Catholic News Service)

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — After finding out yesterday morning that he would remain a member of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals, Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston called the reappointment an honor, and commended the Holy Father for leading with a shepherd’s heart for the past decade.

“As we approach the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ election on March 13, we are reminded of the gift of the Holy Father’s spiritual and pastoral leadership for the more than 1 billion Catholics across the globe,” Cardinal O’Malley said in a March 7 statement.

“The pope leads with a shepherd’s heart, seeking out those most in need and the forgotten and voiceless on the peripheries of our societies, inspiring us all to hear and respond to the Lord’s call to service on behalf of all our brothers and sisters.”

The Vatican announced Pope Francis had renewed his Council of Cardinals on March 7. Informally dubbed his “kitchen cabinet,” the council was created by Pope Francis after his election on March 13, 2013, to advise him on matters concerning the life of the universal Church. It was founded with eight members, adding Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, in 2014 to make it nine. It will move forward with nine members again.

The council was announced on April 13, 2013, and formally established on Sept. 28, 2013, with a decree.

The decree revealed the council was a suggestion made at the General Congregations of Cardinals prior to the conclave — a suggestion Pope Francis stated in the decree that he ultimately concluded “would be of considerable help in carrying out the pastoral ministry of the Successor of Peter which my brother cardinals wish to entrust to me.”

The council has at least one cardinal from nearly every continent. There currently isn’t a cardinal on the council from Oceania, which includes Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands.

Cardinal O’Malley, who has long been the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, is the lone United States Cardinal on the council. Cardinal Parolin; Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay; India, the former head of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences; and Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, will also retain their membership.

Newcomers to Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals are:

  • Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, the president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, and relator general for the Synod of Bishops on Synodality.
  • Cardinal Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State, and president of the Governorate of the Vatican City State,
  • Cardinal Juan José Omella Omella of Barcelona, Spain, and president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference.
  • Cardinal Gérald Lacroix of Quebec, Canada.
  • Cardinal Sérgio da Rocha of São Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, and former president of the Brazilian Bishops’ Conference.

In his statement, Cardinal O’Malley said he is grateful for the Holy Father’s “faith and confidence” in his assistance. He asked for continued blessings for Pope Francis in his service to the people of God.

“During this season of Lent, we ask God’s blessing on Pope Francis for continued good health and give thanks for the Holy Father’s joy in serving Christ and the people of God,” Cardinal O’Malley said.