The Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts is awaiting the appointment of a new president, as sources have confirmed for CNA that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the council since 2007, who turned 80 years old March 6.

The council is tasked with preparing official interpretations of canon law, which must be approved by the pope, when questions regarding its meaning or application arise. The council also provides canonical guidance to bishops, religious orders, and offices of the Roman Curia.

Sources have told CNA that Coccopalmerio has already begun living in Milan, his native city, and that his retirement has long been expected within the congregation.

Sources inside the council have speculated that Coccopalmerio’s successor could be Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, a Spaniard, who was appointed secretary to the council in 2007, at the same time Coccopalmerio was appointed president. Arrieta, 66, was ordained a priest of Opus Dei, and was founding dean of the canon law school at the prelature’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.  

In a 2017 booklet on the apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia, Coccopalmerio wrote that “the Church could admit to Penance and to the Eucharist faithful who find themselves in an illegitimate union when two essential conditions occur: they want to change the situation, but they are unable to fulfill their desire.”

Coccopalmerio was connected to scandal when his secretary, Monsignor Luigi Capozzi, was arrested in 2017 amid charges of drug use and sexual misconduct in Vatican-owned buildings.