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Pope, Council of Cardinals meet online to discuss Curia reform


Pope Francis greets the crowd during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Oct. 14, 2020. A few days after four Swiss Guards tested positive for COVID-19, the pope broke from his normal pattern and did not personally greet people in the crowd. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)


By Cindy Wooden

Catholic News Service


        VATICAN CITY (CNS) - Pope Francis and his international Council of Cardinals met virtually Oct. 13, discussing the updated draft of a constitution reorganizing the Roman Curia and steps to implement it, the Vatican press office said.

        The first draft of the document, provisionally titled "Praedicate evangelium" ("Preach the Gospel"), was sent to the heads of current Vatican offices, bishops' conferences around the world and other experts in the spring of 2019.

        After receiving feedback and discussing possible amendments, "during the summer months the council was able to work via internet on the text of the new apostolic constitution, the updated draft of which was presented to the Holy Father," the Vatican said Oct. 13. "In accordance with usual praxis, the competent dicasteries are now proceeding with the reading of the text."

        "Today's meeting was convened to summarize the work done and to study how to support the implementation of the new constitution, once promulgated," the statement said.

        Pope Francis, according to the press office, told the six cardinals that while the text has not been completed and promulgated, "the reform is already underway, also in some administrative and economic aspects."

        The Dicastery for Communication was created in 2015, giving the former office for social communications direct responsibility for Vatican Radio, the Vatican newspaper, the Vatican press office and the Vatican television production center. The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development was created in 2016 by merging the previously separate offices for justice and peace, charity, migrants and refugees and health care; at the same time, the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life was created by uniting previously separate offices for the laity and for the family.

        The 2019 draft of the new constitution called for the appointment of more laypeople in leadership roles at the Vatican, including as heads of Vatican dicasteries. It also envisioned merging the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples with the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization and placing the office ahead of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Vatican's organizational chart.

        Discussing the changes with members of the Curia in December, Pope Francis said the ordering of the doctrinal congregation and the congregation responsible for the church's efforts in lands traditionally known as "missionary territory" made sense "in an age when it was easier to distinguish between two fairly well-defined shores: a Christian world on one side and a world still to be evangelized on the other."

        "This situation no longer exists," the pope had said.

        Evangelization and the "new evangelization" St. John Paul II called for are urgent needs, the pope said, which is why the Curia itself must change and adapt.

        All six members of the council participated in the online meeting: Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Sean P. O'Malley of Boston; Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; and Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State.

        Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, the council will meet virtually again in December, the Vatican said.

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