After a handful of public challenges to Pope Francis' teaching and authority, the members of the pope's international Council of Cardinals began their February meeting expressing their "full support" for his work.
Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, coordinator of the council, began the meeting Feb. 13 assuring the pope of the cardinals' "full support for his person and his magisterium," according to a statement published by the Vatican press office.
The statement said the cardinals' support was offered "in relation to recent events."
No specific events were mentioned, but the statement came just a few days after a fake version of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, was emailed to Vatican officials and a week after posters were put up around Rome questioning the pope's mercy in dealing with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and other groups over which the pope had placed special delegates. It also came several months after U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke and three retired cardinals publicly questioned Pope Francis on the teaching in his document on the family, "Amoris Laetitia."
Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga, speaking on behalf of the Council of Cardinals, also thanked Pope Francis for the way he explained the council's work on the reform of the Roman Curia to Vatican officials.
Meeting with members of the Curia just before Christmas, Pope Francis said the reform was motivated by a desire to ensure the central offices of the church are focused on sharing the Gospel, better meet people's needs and assist the pope in his ministry of service to the church and the world.
"We cannot be content simply with changing personnel; we need to encourage spiritual, human and professional renewal among the members of the Curia," the pope had said. "The reform of the Curia is in no way implemented with a change of personnel—something that certainly is happening and will continue to happen—but with a conversion in persons. Continuing formation is not enough; what we need also and above all is continuing conversion and purification. Without a change of mentality, efforts at practical improvement will be in vain."
In addition to Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga, the council members are: Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Sean P. O'Malley of Boston; Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile; Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo; George Pell, head of the Secretariat for the Economy; and Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State.