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Rome Reports

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Cardinal Maradiaga: We are in a new stage of the pontificate, not at the end

Pope Francis enters the ninth year of his pontificate in March, and the coordinator of the Council of Cardinals, Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, is taking stock of the reforms implemented since Francis became Pope.

He recalls that one of the most difficult challenges was joining the financial balances of entities related to the Vatican City State, to ease control of funds and avoid excessive spending or potential scandals. One clear example was restructuring the Institute for the Works of Religion, known as the Vatican bank.

Coordinator, Council of Cardinals
"The reform begins from the point of view of the economy. FLASH For example: we had to close many accounts that had no reason being there and that were serving other purposes, such as hiding funds from the Italian government."

The Cardinal adds that Pope Francis has faithfully followed the agreements that came out of the so-called "pre-conclave" meetings, in which cardinals defined a number of steps that must be taken by the next pontiff. Among them was the creation of the Council of Cardinals as a consultative body, one of the first steps taken by Pope Francis.

Coordinator, Council of Cardinals
"Let us remember that the Council of Cardinals arose from the "pre-conclave" meetings, where it was said that it would be beneficial for the Pope to have a group of cardinals "from the base" and that information not only reach him through the apostolic nunciatures or the Secretariat of State."

Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga points out that Pope Francis has made three types of reforms. Spiritual reform, through his gestures and establishing events such as the Jubilee of Mercy. Ecclesiological reform, by asking the Church to reflect on synodality. And institutional reforms, by reorganizing Vatican dicasteries, promoting economic transparency, and fighting sexual abuse in the Church.

The coordinator of the Council of Cardinals says that much of this work is already underway, and that those who think the Francis pontificate is over are mistaken.

Coordinator, Council of Cardinals
"Some are talking about this being a final stage of the pontificate. I say no: it is a new stage of the pontificate."

The Cardinal is looking ahead to the next difficult step that must be taken: consolidating reform through new appointments. With the trial periods ending for new bodies created in the Church, those who must strengthen their reforms must soon be chosen.