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Reform of Vatican Curia to be thought of at assembly of cardinals

(RNS) — When the world’s cardinals meet in Rome starting Saturday (Aug. 27), Pope Francis will create 21 new cardinals, then ask them and their new colleagues within the School of Cardinals to debate his plans for reforming the Vatican Curia, the paperwork that helps him govern the Catholic Church.

This can give the cardinals an opportunity to say what they like or dislike concerning the operations of the Curia and the current reforms Francis has instituted. It’s going to additionally give them an opportunity to get to know each other in preparation for the conclave to elect a brand new pope when Francis dies — or retires.

Sixteen of the brand new cardinals are beneath the age of 80 and subsequently capable of vote for a brand new pope in a conclave. Francis has now appointed 83 (63%) of the cardinal electors. With Francis turning 86 in December, it’s not unimaginable that these would be the final cardinals he’ll create. Then once more, if he’s nonetheless reigning when he turns 87, he might appoint at the least one other 17.

The brand new cardinals will be a part of all the opposite cardinals in discussing “Praedicate Evangelium” (“Preach the Gospel”), the apostolic structure that Francis issued in March, wherein he laid out his reforms of the Curia.

Francis’ most dramatic reform is opening prime positions within the Curia to put management. Because of this the secretary of state or heads of the Dicastery for Doctrine of the Religion might be laypeople. A layman or laywoman might be put in command of the workplace for locating episcopal candidates.

RELATED: Pope Francis’ reforms to church governance are unlike any since Vatican II

How the cardinals, who’re all clerics, reply to this revolution might be attention-grabbing to look at. Will they agree with Francis and his advisers that authority within the church comes from workplace, not ordination? Or will they argue that solely the clergy can have decision-making authority?

Whereas it won’t have an effect on the present Vatican cardinals, the church might even see a future wherein the Vatican has extra lay management and fewer clerics and bishops. Some have steered that these lay officers be made cardinals, however I feel the less cardinals within the Curia the higher: It’s tough to fireside curial cardinals who’re incompetent or not in sync with the pope.

A compromise can be to nominate pro-tem cardinals (each lay and clerical) within the Curia, who would lose their titles on the demise or resignation of that pope and couldn’t attend the conclave to elect the subsequent one.

Many liberal commentators have rejoiced at what they see because the downgrading of the Secretariat of State and the Dicastery for Doctrine of the Religion. They consider that in some way the Dicastery for the Evangelization will develop into the highest canine within the Vatican. I doubt it. It will likely be too busy doing its conventional job of taking good care of the previous missionary territories within the church.

The Secretariat of State has for hundreds of years performed a dominant position within the Vatican, particularly on political subjects. It additionally exercised a coordinating position throughout the Vatican paperwork.

The Congregation for Doctrine of the Religion, because the dicastery was beforehand identified, was additionally very highly effective when it got here to doctrinal points, having the ultimate say, beneath the pope, on any doc popping out of the Vatican. Previous to Francis, it additionally performed doctrinal cop in policing the writings and teachings of theologians.

As somebody who suffered beneath the congregation, I applaud the growth of free dialogue beneath Francis. However it’s naïve to suppose that the Vatican can run with out somebody beneath the pope appearing as coordinator and even decision-maker on issues the pope doesn’t wish to cope with. Nor can the church have varied Vatican places of work issuing contradictory paperwork. When officers disagree, somebody should step in, and it will probably’t all the time be the pope.

Below Pope John Paul II, Joseph Ratzinger, as head of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Religion, was the doctrinal czar. This freed the pope to journey and do different issues. Francis wants helpers he trusts as a lot as John Paul trusted Ratzinger.

Structural change is vital, however personnel is coverage. The Vatican must be structured so the pope can extra simply substitute officers who are usually not performing as they need to. A phenomenal organizational chart is nugatory with out the correct individuals occupying the places of work. Francis has taken too lengthy to switch individuals who got here into energy beneath John Paul and Benedict. And a few of these Francis has appointed must be changed as a result of they did not carry out as he hoped.

If the church is a discipline hospital, as Francis has mentioned, the hospital director wants to verify the medical doctors are therapeutic sufferers, not making issues worse.

RELATED: Pope Francis appoints cardinals, setting stage for election of his successor

Francis has hardly ever consulted consistories on these subjects, preferring the broader illustration of the synod of bishops. John Paul used the consistory system ceaselessly to debate subjects, permitting the cardinals to get to know each other, which is helpful previous to a conclave. At this consistory, the cardinals might be listening to what’s mentioned however maybe paying extra consideration to who says it. This might be their probability to take a look at candidates for the subsequent conclave, each time it would happen.

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