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Papa Francesco and Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy Papa Francesco and Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy 

Bp Semeraro: For Pope spiritual exercises are the ongoing reform

Next Monday, February 26th, the 23rd meeting of Pope Francis with the Cardinal Councilors will begin. This is the first meeting of the C9 of 2018, in a journey that began over 4 years ago with the establishment - on 28 September 2013 - of this new body tasked with helping the Pope "in the governance of the universal Church and to study a draft revision of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus regarding the Roman Curia". To frame the future perspectives of the work of the C9 we have gathered the thoughts of the secretary of the Council of Cardinals, the bishop of Albano, in Italy Marcello Semeraro.

By Alessandro Gisotti

R. - I would say that in the next session we will start again with the issues already put on the agenda, also because, by doing so, some steps become clearer. So let's say that the look, on the part of the Council of Cardinals on the fundamental dicasteries, is already in the final phase. It comes at a time of a re-reading also starting from a reflection on the work accomplished. The work done also helped to clarify some issues that at first did not seem urgent.

D. - In a recent article for the magazine "The Kingdom", you emphasized that the most important dimension of the reform is the spiritual one, not the structural or functional one. What is the significance of the Exercises that the Pope is carrying out with the Roman Curia in Ariccia this week?

A. - Just this morning (yesterday) I was there, at the Casa del Divin Maestro, to greet the Holy Father, to assure him of the diocese's prayer. I had a brief conversation with him at the end of the meditation. The Holy Father stressed once again that the Spiritual Exercises of the Roman Curia which interrupt the ordinary work - even through the symbolic gesture of moving away from the usual place of work to intensify an encounter with God - is a reflection that sees one next to the other, the different collaborators of the Pope in the Roman Curia. Already the Spiritual Exercises are ongoing reform! What does the Holy Father want to tell us? That yes, the reform for organizations is real, changes in structures, but the first change that must be made - and permanently - is a change in mentality. What the Curial reform intends to express is, first of all, a harmony with what the Pope has written in the Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, and then putting oneself in that paradigm of missionarity, of proclaiming the Gospel, in the light of which all  other organizational and institutional realities are faced. Secondly, reforming means making the service relationship even more evident.

Q. - "Reform is a movement", the Pope said at the last meeting of the C9 last December. What significance does reform have in this sense. Could we define it as deeply Ignatian, St. Ignatius of Loyola ...

A. - the reform of the Roman Curia was born of a movement to be understood, as you said, in the Ignatian sense. There was a motion of spirits within the cardinals in the meetings preceding the last conclave. And from this comparison emerged the petition that the new Pope should have drawn attention to the reform of the Roman Curia, reform not to be understood in the sense of adjusting something that goes wrong, that is not good, but reform in the sense of that semper reformanda which normally applies to the Church, but even more directly can be said of the Roman Curia. The Curia has always known also with Pius X, Paul VI, John Paul II and also Benedict XVI, interventions that can be called "reform". This means making reality ever more transparent, increasingly corresponding to a purpose. In this sense, I think it must also be said that reform will always involve adjustments. The reform of the Curia does not take place once and for all!

Q. - In a few days the we will mark the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis to the See of Peter. To give a summary of course is very difficult, but also personally as a bishop, first of all, if you could indicate a dimension that particularly affects the Magisterium of  Pope Francis, which would you indicate?

A- Beyond the specific contents that the Pope presents to us and that we also have in the great documents, and it is conceivable that the Pope can give us some other new document that expresses the line of his Pontificate, but I would summarize it in this: the Pope asks us to assume a new observation point. He asks us to have multiple observation points to consider reality. It is not a coincidence that one of the words that is most familiar to him, is the word gaze, this also comes from his Ignatian spirituality.


22 February 2018, 09:02