Gracias is one of eight cardinals chosen to advise Pope Francis on reforming the Vatican administration. Representing each continent, the special commission includes only one Italian and no true Vatican insiders. The commission will meet with Francis the first three days of October, but the cardinals have already been talking to each other informally and are planning to meet as a group before their deliberations with the Pope, Gracias said. Each of the eight have met individually with Pope Francis to discuss the commissionâ€™s mandate, and Pope Francis has urged the commission to reread Pope Paul VIâ€™s encyclical Evangelii nuntiandi and reflect on the new evangelization.
â€œThereâ€™s got to be some reflection on this whole topic of the Vatican, how to make it more effective, to make it of more assistance to the Holy Father and to make it of more assistance to the Church. Thatâ€™s really the way I would see it,â€ said the Indian cardinal, who is archbishop of Bombay, India, (though the city has changed its name to Mumbai, the archdiocese still prefers Bombay) and a canon lawyer.
The days of Italian dominance over the inner workings of the Vatican may be coming to an end.
â€œWe were speaking of Italian predominance and that has been one of the criticisms,â€ Gracias said. â€œThe Church is a universal Church.â€
A Vatican bureaucracy which more closely resembles the Church it serves doesnâ€™t mean a kind of political balancing act requiring just the right numbers of Germans, Brazilians, Chinese and Nigerians.
â€œIâ€™m not overly sensitive or overly concerned about national representation,â€ Gracias said. â€œThe Church has got to remain above nationalities and narrow parochialism. Itâ€™s got to have a world view.â€
In the cardinalâ€™s view, the Vatican wonâ€™t acquire a world view through osmosis from its selection of foreigners to work in Rome or by stumbling upon a perfect administrative structure. Gracias believes the Church is evolving back into a more synodal form of government that marked the first 1,300 years of Church history and the continuing tradition of the Orthodox Church. But reform will also require a renewed sense of purpose. [more]