Boston Cardinal O'Malley Among Pope's Advisers

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The head of the Roman Catholic Church in the city is among eight cardinals named by Pope Francis to advise him on running the church and reforming the Vatican bureaucracy.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley is among members of the advisory panel announced by the Vatican on Saturday. The group includes only one current Vatican official, with the rest being cardinals from North, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia. They will hold their first meeting Oct. 1-3, though the pope is already in contact with them, according to the announcement.

The Vatican says the pope appointed the advisers following suggestions that emerged during meetings in the run-up to the conclave that elected him.

A reform of the Vatican bureaucracy was a constant drumbeat ahead of the pope's election as were calls for making the Vatican more responsive to the needs of bishops around the world. Many cardinals said the Holy See bureaucracy must be overhauled. Including representatives from each continent in a permanent advisory panel to the pope would seem to go a long way toward answering those calls.

Many of the cardinals in the advisory panel have been outspoken in calling for a shake-up of the Vatican bureaucracy, which was last reformed 25 years ago, while others, including O'Malley, have tried to clean up the church from sexually abusive priests.

The Archdiocese of Boston posted the Vatican announcement on its website on Saturday, triggering messages of congratulation to O'Malley from the faithful.

Those who praised the choice include Julio Enrique Di Giovanni, who wrote from Buenos Aires, Argentina, that Francis, an Argentine, "is building the `Good People Club"' with O'Malley and the other cardinals.

Linda Ann Ballard had a more straightforward reaction: "gentle soul ... holy vision ... good choice ... prayers begin now."

A reform of the Vatican bureaucracy has been demanded for years, given that prior Popes John Paul and Benedict XVI essentially neglected in-house administration of the Holy See in favor of other priorities. But the calls for change grew deafening last year after the leaks of papal documents exposed petty turf battles within the Vatican bureaucracy, allegations of corruption in the running of the Vatican city state and even a purported plot by senior Vatican officials to out a prominent Catholic as gay.

This article was originally published on April 13, 2013.

This program aired on April 13, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.