Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich celebrates Mass at the International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest, Hungary, Sept. 10, 2021. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Rome Newsroom, Mar 7, 2023 / 06:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis appointed five new members to his council of cardinals advisers on Tuesday, including Synod organizer Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich and Canadian Cardinal Gérald C. Lacroix.

The Vatican announced on March 7 the nine members of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals tasked with assisting the pope “in the governance of the universal Church.”

The pope has nominated Brazilian Cardinal Sérgio da Rocha, Spanish Cardinal Juan José Omella Omella, and Cardinal Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, the president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, to be new members of the council, along with Hollerich and Lacroix.

With the new appointments, Honduran Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, 80, and Germany’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx, 69, are no longer members of the Council of Cardinals. Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, the 80-year-old retired president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, has been replaced by his successor.

The group of cardinal advisers, also referred to as the C9 for its nine members, was established by Pope Francis one month after his election in 2013 to advise the pope on the reform of the Roman Curia, particularly the new apostolic constitution, Praedicate evangelium, published last year.

The group continued to meet after the constitution’s publication and discussed the Synod on Synodality and the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors at its last meeting in December.

The inclusion of Hollerich, a Jesuit who is one of the leading organizers of the ongoing Synod on Synodality, suggests that the council will continue to have a role advising the pope on the global synod process. 

The appointment also indicates the esteem the pope has for the 64-year-old cardinal archbishop of Luxembourg, whom he appointed in 2021 as the relator general of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. Last fall, Hollerich said in an interview with Vatican media that he believes the possibility of Church blessings for same-sex unions is not a settled matter.

Three original members of the C9 remain in the council: American Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state. 

Congolese Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, who was appointed in 2020, will also remain in the council of advisers and Bishop Marco Mellino will continue to serve as the group’s secretary.

The next meeting of the Council of Cardinals will be held on April 24 at the pope’s Vatican residence, Casa Santa Marta, at 9 a.m.

This is a developing story.