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Revitalizing Spiritual and Pastoral Care: Pope Francis' Reforms at Basilica of St. Mary Major

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Pope Francis has enacted significant changes in the administration of the papal Basilica of St. Mary Major, emphasizing spiritual and pastoral care while appointing a coadjutor archpriest to oversee the oldest Marian shrine in the West.

Photo credit: Fabio Fistarol

Photo credit: Fabio Fistarol

Highlights

By Catholic Online (California Network)
3/21/2024 (3 weeks ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Pope Francis, Basilica of St. Mary Major, pastoral care, spiritual work, administrative reforms, coadjutor archpriest

In a chirograph issued on March 20th, the Holy Father underscored the importance of freeing the canons, the clergy designated to serve the basilica, from economic and administrative duties. This liberation, he explained, enables them to fully dedicate themselves to the spiritual and pastoral accompaniment of pilgrims.

The reform process was initiated in December 2021 when Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Rolandas Makrickas as the extraordinary commissioner. Makrickas was tasked with overseeing the reorganization of the chapter's life and the basilica's operations for the greater benefit of the faithful.

The Basilica of St. Mary Major, also known as the Liberian Basilica, holds significant religious relics, including the Holy Cradle and the icon of Salus Populi Romani attributed to St. Luke. It has been a place of personal significance for Pope Francis, who often prays there before and after his apostolic journeys.

Expressing his attachment to the basilica, Pope Francis revealed in a December 2023 interview his desire to be buried there instead of the crypt of St. Peter's Basilica.

In the recent chirograph, Archbishop Makrickas was appointed as the coadjutor archpriest of St. Mary Major, with the potential to succeed Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, the current archpriest. Traditionally, the archpriest, usually a cardinal, serves a five-year renewable term and holds executive power over the basilica's activities and assets.

The reforms also introduced new roles, including a delegate for pastoral care and a delegate for administration, aimed at enhancing the basilica's organizational structure and efficiency.

Until the new positions are filled, Archbishop Makrickas will assume their responsibilities. Additionally, an administrative council has been established to manage the chapter's assets, ensuring transparency and accountability in financial matters.

Overall, Pope Francis' reforms at the Basilica of St. Mary Major reflect his commitment to revitalizing spiritual engagement and pastoral care, ensuring that this sacred site continues to serve as a beacon of faith and solace for pilgrims from around the world.

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