VATICAN CITY (CNS): At the start of what may be a sweeping reform of the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict XVI has merged the leadership of four of the Vatican’s councils under two presidents.
The Vatican announced on March 11 that French Cardinal Paul Poupard, who is head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, also would serve as interim president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and that Italian Cardinal Renato Martino, who is head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, temporarily would head the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travellers.
The Vatican announced that the Pope accepted the retirement of the head of the migrants’ council, Japanese Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, who turned 76 on March 9.
To fill the vacancy, the Pope united “for the time being” the presidency of the office with that of justice and peace.
Cardinal Poupard’s assignment as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue filled a post made vacant after the Pope on February 15 named its former head, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, to be the new ambassador to Egypt and the Arab League.
Cardinal Poupard said he was surprised by his appointment, especially since he is 75, the age when bishops must submit their resignations.