File photo of Pope Francis meeting with the C9 

By Vatican News

Dec 5 2023

Pope Francis presides over the meeting of the Council of Cardinals, known as the “C9,” with discussions including the feminine dimension of the Church.

As the Pope announced on Nov 30, during an audience with the International Theological Commission, the Council of Cardinals is focusing its reflections on the “feminine dimension of the Church.”

“The Church is woman,” said Pope Francis on that occasion. “If we do not understand what woman is or what the theology of womanhood is, we will never understand what the Church is.”

He also described the “masculinizing” of the Church as a “great sin,” which has yet to be resolved.

The Pope appealed to a distinction proposed by Jesuit theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, who described a “Petrine” or ministerial principle, and a “Marian” or mystical principle.

“The Marian is more important than the Petrine,” Pope Francis said, “because there is the bride Church, the woman Church, without being masculine.”

Last C9 meeting in June

The last meeting of the C9 took place on Jun 26-27, and saw the Cardinals reflect with the Pope on various themes.

These included the ongoing war in Ukraine, the implementation of the apostolic constitution Praedicate Evangelium in local Churches, and the work of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Central to the discussions was also a reflection on the Synodal Assembly on the theme of synodality which was later held in the Vatican in October.

The new C9

After the renewal of the Council of Cardinals by the Pope on Mar 7, the C9 is currently composed of the following Cardinals:
–  Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See;
–  Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and the Governorate of the Vatican City State
–  Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, Archbishop of Kinshasa;
–  Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay;
–  Seán Patrick O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston;
–  Juan José Omella Omella, Archbishop of Barcelona;
–  Gérald Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec;
–  Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg;
–  Sérgio da Rocha, Archbishop of San Salvador de Bahia.

Bishop Marco Mellino, titular bishop of Cresima, serves as the C9’s secretary. The first meeting of the new C9 took place on Apr 24.

The establishment of the Council of Cardinals

The Council of Cardinals was established by Pope Francis with a papal chirograph on Sep 28, 2013.

He entrusted the Council with the task of assisting him in the governance of the universal Church and studying a project for the reform of the Roman Curia.

The reform was realized with the new apostolic constitution Praedicate Evangelium published on 19 March 2022. The first meeting of the C9 took place on  Oct 1, 2013. – Vatican News