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The reform of the Roman Curia: changes ahead

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Pope Francis has begun a reform of the Roman Curia as he prepares for the resignation of clergy members. Clergy must officially tender their resignation at 75, whereas Cardinals can remain in office until the age of 80, if the pope agrees.

Up until 6 April, the post of the Major Penitentiary was headed by Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, who will turn 80 years old in September.

In his place, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Angelo de Donatis, the former Vicar General of Rome. The pope has not yet named a successor for this position. He said he would take the necessary time to find a replacement for the Vicar General.

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Two seats on the Council of Cardinals or the C9, a key body in the Holy See, will also become vacant in 2024. This is the group of cardinals closest to the pope and who advise him on the governance of the church.

This means Pope Francis will have to find a replacement for Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, who turns 80 on 29 June. The pope’s selection will be twofold, since the American, in addition to being on the C9, is president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. This is a Vatican organisation the pope has stressed as very important, since it is in charge of the delicate issue of abuse.

The other person who will step down from the Council will be Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias. He will turn 80 years old on 24 December.

Another important post is that of President of the Governorate of Vatican City State. It is a post equivalent to that of prime minister and is currently held by Spanish Cardinal Fernando Vergez. His term will end in March 2025 and the pope will have to select a replacement.

Among possible candidates and taking into account the importance the pope places on having women in positions of responsibility, Sr Raffaela Petrini, the number two in the Governorate and currently Cardinal Vergez’s right-hand woman, could be one option.

A generational change is also expected in the coming years for the Roman Curia. Four prefects of different Vatican departments are already over 75 years old or are about to turn 75. They include Cardinal Michael Czerny of Integral Human Development; Cardinal Kevin Farrell of Laity, Family and Life; Cardinal Marcello Semeraro of the Causes of Saints; and Cardinal Arthur Roche of Divine Worship.

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