The Pope convenes an unprecedented 'conclave' to analyze with all the cardinals the future of the Church

Conclave without smoke. The cardinals will meet in Rome on August 29 and 30. They will not do it to elect a new Pope, but to define, together with the reigning pontiff, the challenges of the Church of the future in what many experts agree in calling an unprecedented 'conclave'. So unprecedented that it has sparked rumors about the beginning of the end of Jorge Bergoglio's mandate.

His collaborators categorically deny it. Despite his knee problems, Francis seems in top form, and in addition to the recently approved reform of the Curia, he is preparing his trips to South Sudan and Congo (July 2-7) and Canada (July 24-30). ). "What is clear is that we cannot talk about the end of the pontificate. These are dreams of some"Cardinal Maradiaga, coordinator of the C-9, the group of cardinals who have advised the Pope on the reform of the Curia, assured He explained having received "with joy and hope" the announcement made by the pontiff last Sunday, at the end of the Regina Coeli prayer, moments before reading the names of the new cardinals: a meeting with all the cardinals of the world, 229 among electors and not voters.

Francis has placed the Vatican in 'synodal mode', for which he has asked all the dioceses to consider which Church they dream of. Some responses that are already arriving, such as the Archbishopric of Barcelona, ​​touch points until now considered taboo inside the Vatican walls, which are beginning to crack and accept the debate around optional celibacy, the priesthood of women, the end of bureaucratization or the 'normalization' of the presence of other realities, different from those once considered 'normal', inside the Church: divorced, homosexuals, dialogue with non-believers...

"Francis wants all the cardinals to get involved in the reform of the Church, which goes far beyond the changes in the structure of the Vatican Curia. And he also wants to listen to those who are not in favor, which are not many, but And this Pope has the virtue of turning his enemies into 'accomplices', points out, in private, another of the 'princes of the Church' who will participate in the meeting in the middle of the Roman summer, who was surprised by the news, but who fits him within "Bergoglio thought: see, listen, judge... and then act".

The cardinals will arrive in Rome to participate in the eighth consistory of Francis' pontificate, which will take place on August 27. From that day on, a future conclave will have 133 cardinal electors (although some of them will cease to be so in these two months) and 96 non-electors, for a total of 229 cardinals. The last conclave was on November 28, 2020, in the midst of the pandemic.

A cardinal's 'army' that will have the opportunity, for the first time in the history of this Papacy, to debate and assume the principles of the reform of the Curia, which entered into force on June 5. "It is a kind of pre-conclave" point out Vatican experts, who point out that it is the first time that the Pope has called all the cardinals to Rome.

"Monday and Tuesday, August 29 and 30, there will be a meeting of cardinals to reflect on the new Apostolic Constitution, Preach the Gospel," which enters into force on June 5, the Pope announced from the balcony of the blessings of Saint Peter.

The consistory intends, according to the sources consulted, to make all the cardinals assume the curial reform as their own, and implement it in their dioceses. Because the new curial organization also forces the episcopal conferences to modify their structures, and it is well known that in the Church, if the structure does not change, nothing changes. "And, on the contrary, for the curiae to change, people and attitudes must change. In some way, Francis wants the entire ecclesial structure, not just the Vatican, to agree to do hara kiri," says a churchman Spanish who has been working in Rome for decades and who has been on the team that has analyzed the latest corrections to the text.

The 21 new cardinals will participate in the meeting of cardinals (16 under 80 years of age and who could vote, and be voted, in a future conclave, and another 5 emeritus). His election has been one more sign that Francis does not work with the keys that have always worked in the Vatican Curia. Many 'historical' venues, such as Seville, Turin or Los Angeles still do not have a cardinal, while there are many 'peripheries' that will have a prince of the Church. From Ulan Bator (Mongolia) to the jungles of Africa.

The archbishop-bishop emeritus of Leeds, Arthur Roche, is the new head of the Congregation for Divine Worship, where one of the greatest opponents of the figure of Bergoglio, Monsignor Farah, was found. The direction of Clergy has also been renewed, now in charge of the South Korean Lazzaro You Heung sik. To these two mainstays of the new Curia is added the Spanish –there has always been at least one Spanish cardinal in the eight papal consistories– Fernando Vérgez, president of the Vatican Government and the first Cardinal Legionnaire of Christ.

The new cardinals generally show a clear preference for Asia. Thus, along with Lazzaro, there will be two new cardinals in India. One of them belongs to the Dalit caste, the 'untouchables' or outcasts who are in the lowest echelon of the Indian social system that condemns them to live in conditions of extreme poverty and discrimination. To them are added those of Singapore, Mongolia and East Timor. Two Brazilians, Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, 71, and Paulo Cezar Costa, 54, are the Latin American quota along with the Archbishop of Asunción, Adalberto Martínez Flores, the first cardinal of Paraguay. The rise of the peripheries in this eighth consistory is completed by the prelates of Nigeria and Ghana.

Among the electors, in addition to the curials, there is only room for an Italian (the bishop of Como) and for Robert McElroy, bishop of San Diego, in what seems like a warning from the Pope to those ultra-conservative prelates: the bishop of San Diego is one of those who has opposed deny communion to Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi for their defense of the right to abortion.

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