14 Apr 2013

Vatican re-structuring announced

5:13 am on 14 April 2013

Pope Francis has set up a committee of eight cardinals to advise him on how to reform the Vatican's central administration, the Curia.

The Vatican said the cardinals will help the pope put into place changes in the Curia, which has been held responsible for some of the mishaps and scandals that plagued the reign of Pope Benedict before he resigned in February after eight years as pontiff.

Between them, they represent nearly every continent and only one is currently a Vatican official.

The bureaucracy has been blamed for the Church's hesitant response to sex abuse and other crises.

It is nearly 50 years since the Vatican's last major reforms.

The cardinals are from Africa, Australia, Chile, Germany, Honduras, India, Italy and the United States. An Italian bishop will act as secretary.

Announcing the appointments, the Vatican said the pontiff had got the idea of forming the advisory body from meetings ahead of his election by cardinals last month.

The new group is to have its first meeting on 1-3 October.

The last major reform of the Vatican bureaucracy was undertaken by Pope Paul VI in 1967.

The BBC reports from the cardinals who elected Pope Francis last month were strongly critical about basic failings of the Curia under Pope Emeritus Benedict.

Earlier this week Pope Francis met personally all 300 staff members of the Vatican's secretariat of state. Some radical reforms are expected soon.

Scandals have included clerical sexual abuse, financial problems at the Vatican bank and the theft of documents from Benedict's desk.