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Last Friday Reuters reported that Pope Francis has formed a commission to tackle Vatican reform.

Made up of seven international lay experts and one cleric, the commission will report directly to the pope and advise him on economic affairs, improving transparency and enforcing accounting principles.

Its members will have the right to examine any paper and digital document in the Vatican…

… The new commission’s lay members are experts in economics, finance, management and law and come from Spain, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Malta and France, the Vatican said in a statement. The cleric will act as the commission’s secretary…

… Francis ordered all Vatican departments to collaborate with the commission and bypass usual rules that oblige officials to respect the secrecy of their office.

As Daniel Horan points out on his blog Dating God, this announcement is getting little media coverage, despite the unprecedented nature of the commission. He provides a link to Vatican Radio’s coverage, which includes a list of the members:

Dr. Joseph FX Zahra (Malta), President

Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda (Secretary of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs), Secretary

Mr Jean-Baptiste de Franssu (France)

Dr. Enrique Llano (Spain)

Dr. Jochen Messemer (Germany)

Ms. Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui (Italy)

Mr. Jean Videlain-Sevestre (France)

Mr. George Yeo (Singapore)

So not only has the Pope convened a commission composed almost entirely of lay people, it includes one female member (though it should be noted that it is overwhelming European). It remains to be seen what the commission will be able to accomplish, but this announcement is yet another move suggesting that Francis marks a real departure from previous Vatican administrations. The hopes for a greater role for the laity, expressed at last week’s symposium on the Role of Lay Catholic Theologians, may actually be fulfilled!