It's a big week of meetings for Francis -- his first big chance to follow through on expectations that he will be collaborative and consultative in his exercise of power, and that he will effect some much-needed reforms in Rome. Catholic News Service was tweeting updates bright and early: "Next Monday and Tuesday, meetings of the secretariat of the synod of bishops and the 15-member cardinals’ council on economic affairs.... 15-member council of cardinals on Holy See economic affairs will meet 8-member council of cardinals THIS Wednesday 19 February.... 'Extraordinary consistory' with all cardinals starts Thursday at 9:30 am."
[Update: Read Joshua McElwee's comprehensive report on the agenda for the coming week at the National Catholic Reporter.]
Cardinal Kasper will be giving the opening presentation at the Council of Cardinals: Francis X. Rocca reports on that for CNS here. With preparations for this fall's synod on the family underway, there is much speculation about what Kasper might say regarding divorced Catholics and communion, given that he has favored some changes to church regulations in the past. When it comes to "pastoral challenges in the context of evangelization," that's certainly a big one.
That "8-member council" mentioned above, the eight cardinals appointed by Pope Francis to advise him on reform, are meeting for the third time. That includes the one American member of the gang, Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston. Make no mistake, all these councils serve only in an advisory role, as Vatican spokesperson Fr. Federico Lombardi made clear at this morning's press briefing this morning. The pope is still the pope, after all. And it's up to the individual cardinals to keep the press informed, or not. Stay tuned.
This seems like a good time to mention that I'll be appearing on a panel next month at the American Bible Society (in NYC), responding to a presentation by the aforementioned Cardinal O'Malley. Since he'll be just back from all that meeting and advising, I'm looking forward to whatever updates he has to give. The event is free and open to the public: 6:30 p.m. on March 19. Ken Woodward, R.R. Reno of First Things and Matt Malone of America will be there too. Mark your calendars, and I'll remind you as it gets closer. And tell me, what would you ask Cardinal O'Malley if you had a chance?