Rorate Caeli

The College of Super-Cardinals

It would be hard to overstate the importance of the new body gathered by the Pope - the one that, due to its characteristics and direct dependence on the Pontiff, we chose to name the Pope's "Privy Council".

It is a characteristic of bureaucracies to expand indefinitely: "Parkinson's Law works everywhere," as Mikhail Gorbachev once wryly remarked. If it is confirmed, as it seems likely, as a permanent feature of the reorganized structure of the auxiliary organs of the papacy, after the approval of the reform this new organ itself will study, then its position will depend on what exactly the new arrangement of the Curia will be. Will most existing organs be extinguished, or will they linger on as merely or mostly decorative positions, as so many curial offices once relevant?

It is very likely this new Council will subsist - it was obviously something very much in the mind of the voting Cardinals in the past conclave. Was its establishment part of the electoral negotiations?... A future and more detailed history of the conclave will probably one day reveal it.

To understand what structure mostly inspired the creation of the new Council, one does not have to look further than the Society of Jesus itself. As it is currently constituted, the "Jesuit Curia" is composed of "general counsellors" the majority of whom are Regional Assistants:

When Father General is in Rome, he begins every day meeting with his “General Counsellors”.

The election of those counsellors shows a balance of power between the newly elected Superior General and the General Congregation who has elected him.

Fr. General is the one who appoints (now nine) Regional Assistants, and several other General Counsellors.

The General Congregation elects four Assistants “ad providentiam”. Their function is to assist the Superior General on behalf of the whole Society. The assistance called for deals with external matters “such as clothing, food and any expenditure touching upon the General’s person”, preventing him “from going beyond measure in labours or excessive severity”, and attending “to his soul in case necessity might arise”.

Among the General Counsellors there is a Counsellor for Formation and Fr. General’s Delegate, responsible for the governance of the international Jesuit houses in Rome.

One curiosity? While some form of continental representation was obviously on the Pope's mind as he assembled his Privy Council, as it happens in the Jesuit Curia, the three nations with the largest number of (nominal) Catholics  - Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines - are not represented in this group of Super-Cardinals.

[Note: image just a (not very) artistic rendition.]


  1. Anonymous7:35 PM

    "Concilium Privatum". Maybe your rendition...

    Why not, then, "Communio Privata" ?

  2. "It is very likely this new Council will subsist .."

    Does "subsist" here mean "is"?

  3. (On the council being representative of the continents but not some of the larger "catholic countries":) Perhaps his intention is to be advised by catholic leaders not in a majority position, to be more evangelising?

  4. (On the council being representative of the continents but not some of the larger "catholic countries":) Perhaps his intention is to be advised by catholic leaders not in a majority position, to be more evangelising?

  5. And this is why nobody trusted the Jesuits as they sought themselves separate from the Magisterium which caused all kinds of problems.

    Seeing a replication of the Jesuit structure, that Pope Francis put into place, makes me question the degree of authority these Cardinals will have - will they act with impunity or will they have to give their reports to the Pope who doesn't seem to like the minutia of making bureaucracy. Has he given them carte blanche over certain areas? That's what a Privy council does - act independently until something happens that really hurts the whole.

    I'm not sure what this means until we see what they do.

    Its definitely true that the Vatican needs cleaning up and could use some streamlining.

  6. Pastor Bonus must go. Until it does, the Pope remains a "cabin-boy" on the barque of Peter.

  7. Super-Council sounds like a statist trend in the making we witness elsewhere. The czar-system used by POTUS & the inner cabinet of the UK goverment. Will they be making decisions about Conciliar "super-dogmas"? Some of these such as Cardinal Madriaga was involved with paedophile cover-ups. Does this not strike at the heart of the credibility of this "Super-Congregation"?

  8. It has been reported on Gloria TV news website that Cardinal Marx of the archdiocese of Munish and Freising holds a 13.2% share in Weltbild the 100% Catholib bishop owned publishing company that peddles among other things 2,500 pornography titles. And this "prince of the church" has been called by the Pope to advise him???
    You could not make it up!
    Almighty God have mercy on us.

  9. GT Taylor

    Thank you for this....I did not dare add that for fear I would not have had my comments here posted. And....there is more besides. the credibility gap widens by the week.

  10. Too many prelates in the German hierarchy and too many nuns in the USA have something in common......too many millions perhaps?


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