Cardinal Rodríguez discusses role of G8 at UDMC press conference

By Michele Baker


North Texas Catholic

Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, SDB answers questions at the press conference following his keynotes presentation at the UDMC conference. (Photo by Juan Guajardo/NTC)

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Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, SDB, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, addressed attendees at the seventh annual University of Dallas Ministry Conference (UDMC) Friday, Oct. 25 at the Irving Convention Center.

Cardinal Rodríguez, whom Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell introduced as “one of the most sought-after speakers in the Catholic world today,” spoke about “The state of the Church and the importance of the New Evangelization.” One of Pope Francis’ closest advisers, the cardinal emphasized the Church as the People of God, saying, “The function of the Church hierarchy is the function of Jesus Christ; the hierarchy is a ministry of service.”

Referring to the increased involvement of the laity in the life of the Church, he drew heavily on ideas put forth in the documents of Vatican II. “There is the common priesthood of the Faithful,” he said. “In Christ, the priesthood is changed. He had to be made like his brothers.”

After his keynote, Cardinal Rodríguez met with the press for a brief question-answer session. Since his visit to North Texas came on the heels of the first meeting of Pope Francis’ newly formed Council of Cardinals (dubbed the “G8”), many questions centered on its role. While initial reports from the Vatican gave the impression that this hand-picked group of cardinals would work primarily on making reforms to the Roman Curia, Cardinal Rodríguez, who serves as chair of the commission, shed further light on its broader purposes and goals.

“The origin of our commission is that in the beginning of the pre-conclave meetings there was a great feeling that sometimes many things did not arrive to the Pope directly and it was necessary to have a grassroots base,” Cardinal Rodríguez explained. He described a recent trip to New Zealand to illustrate the cultural and geographic diversity of the Universal Church and the need for a mechanism for dialogue with the Holy Father. “This is the wish of the Pope. We will not only work for the reformation of the Vatican Curia. This was the first subject. But this will be a permanent commission. It means that after that we will continue advising the Pope (as) he will ask us to do.”

The cardinal also discussed the intersection of reform in the Church and the role of the laity as it related to the expanded function of the G8, putting forth some surprising possibilities.

“In our work we have started collecting suggestions from all around the world,” he said. “One of the suggestions regarding the laity is — and I believe it is going to be done — to create in the Roman Curia a dicastery for the laity. Now there is a council for the laity but there is a difference between a dicastery and a council.” The dicastery, he said, has “the possibility of having law status: the possibility of making laws.” He went on to state that dicasteries for the bishops, clergy, and religious life already exist and that such a body for the laity was a viable option that would facilitate the development of a distinct spirituality for the laity.

“I think this is one of the desires of Vatican II — to develop a true spirituality for the laity that is not imitating only the spirituality of the priest or the bishop or the religious [but] its own spirituality that is coming up from the ordinary life,” he said.

As the discussion once again turned to the laity Cardinal Rodríguez happily responded to a request to share some of his impressions of Pope Francis’ message of reaching out to those on the fringes of society.

“You know, he (Pope Francis) started talking of the periphery because there are many people who maybe were baptized but never participated fully in the life of the Church,” the cardinal said. “And he is encouraging the lay people and the ministers to go out of the rectories and look for these people. This is the new missionary call.”

Finally, the media gathered wondered if there were any signs that past negative media attention on the Church had begun to wane somewhat since Pope Francis’ election. Cardinal Rodríguez said that he sees this in the sheer volume of material from Pope Francis’ homilies appearing in the media. He said that in the past there would be occasional quotations of the pope related to some social or political aspect but that nowadays he finds that every homily every day seems to go to the media.

“. . . And this is beautiful because it is enriching a lot of people,” he said. “Traveling, I find many people that see me and say, ‘Listen, tell the Pope we love him!’ This is a new approach and a new sign of the times and it’s very good.”

Click here to view a live stream of Cardinal Rodriquez's talk 

See Also

John Allen discusses the ‘Francis effect’ at seventh annual UDMC

UDMC13-John-Allen-BUTTON.jpgSince his election in March, Pope Francis has earned approval ratings most politicians and celebrities would relish. “There is something about this man and his message that set off this popular enthusiasm that is remarkable,” said CNN Vatican analyst John Allen during a discussion of “the Francis effect” at the 2013 University of Dallas Ministry Conference offered Oct. 24-26 in the Irving Convention Center. The Saturday program also included a keynote talk about Our Lady of Guadalupe by a leading expert on the subject, Monsignor Eduardo Chavez.

Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, SDB, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, addressed attendees at the seventh annual University of Dallas Ministry Conference (UDMC) Friday, Oct. 25 at the Irving Convention Center.