Vatican City, Mar 19, 2022 / 05:20 am (CNA).
The Vatican published on Saturday a long-awaited document implementing Pope Francis’ reform of the organization and structure of the Roman Curia.
The apostolic constitution, Praedicate evangelium (“Preach the Gospel”), was released on March 19 after nine years in production by the pope’s Council of Cardinal Advisers.
Praedicate evangelium replaces Pastor bonus, the apostolic constitution on the Roman Curia promulgated by Pope John Paul II on June 28, 1988, and later modified by both popes Benedict and Francis.
With the publication of the new constitution, Pastor bonus is “fully abrogated and replaced.”
The constitution was issued on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the ninth anniversary of the inauguration of Pope Francis’ pontificate. It will take full effect on June 5, the Solemnity of Pentecost.
Under the new constitution, all the Vatican’s departments are now known as “dicasteries.” The powerful Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for example, will now be known as the “Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.”
Along with removing the title “Congregation” from Vatican departments, the new constitution renames Pontifical Councils as “dicasteries.”
The Office of Papal Charities, run by the Papal Almoner Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, becomes the new Dicastery for the Service of Charity.
The 16 dicasteries will be known as the Dicastery for Evangelization, Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dicastery for the Service of Charity, Dicastery for the Eastern Churches, Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, Dicastery for Bishops, Dicastery for the Clergy, Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, Department for Culture and Education, Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Dicastery for Legislative Texts, and Dicastery for Communication.
The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples are merged into the Dicastery for Evangelization, chaired directly by the pope.
The document explains that “it became necessary to reduce the number of departments, joining together those whose purpose was very similar or complementary, and rationalize their functions with the aim of avoiding overlapping of competencies and making their work more effective.”
The Pontifical Council for Culture and the Congregation for Catholic Education are united in the Dicastery for Culture and Education, which is divided into two sections.
The goals of the reform are set out in a section called “Principles and criteria for the service of the Roman Curia.”
It sets out 11 guiding principles: “Service to the Pope’s mission,” “ Co-responsibility in the communio,” “Service to the mission of the Bishops,” “Support for the particular Churches and their Episcopal Conferences and Eastern hierarchical structures,” “The vicarious nature of the Roman Curia,” “Spirituality,” “Personal integrity and professionalism,” “Collaboration between the Dicasteries,” “Interdicasterial and intradicasterial meetings,” “Expression of catholicity,” and “Reduction of Dicasteries.”
On his election in 2013, Pope Francis was widely seen as having a mandate to reform the Roman Curia. Over the first nine years of his pontificate, he issued decrees changing Vatican law and structures, which are reflected in the text of the new constitution.
The document confirms changes to the former Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith unveiled by Pope Francis in February.
The pope reorganized the internal structure of the Vatican’s doctrine office into two sections: a doctrinal section and a disciplinary section.
Setting out the doctrinal section’s responsibilities, the new constitution says that it works in close contact with Church leaders around the world “in the exercise of their mission as authentic teachers and teachers of the faith, for which they are bound to safeguard and promote the integrity of that faith.”
The section “examines writings and opinions that appear contrary or harmful to the right faith and morals; it seeks dialogue with their authors and presents suitable remedies to be made, in accordance with its own norms.”
It also “endeavors to ensure that there is an adequate refutation of the dangerous errors and doctrines which are spread among the Christian people.”
The constitution says that the newly named Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is responsible for arranging “the drafting or revision and updating of the typical [original Latin] editions of liturgical books.”
“The dicastery confirms the translations of liturgical books into current languages and gives recognitio [formal recognition] to their appropriate adaptations to local cultures, legitimately approved by the bishops’ conferences,” it says.
It adds that “the dicastery deals with the regulation and discipline of the sacred liturgy as regards the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.”
Pope Francis imposed tight restrictions on the celebration of extraordinary form Masses — also known as Traditional Latin Masses — in his July 2021 apostolic letter Traditionis custodes.
The Council of Cardinals finished the first draft of the new constitution in 2018. The text was then circulated among the presidents of national bishops’ conferences, dicasteries of the Roman Curia, synods of the Eastern Churches, conferences of major superiors, and select pontifical universities for feedback in 2019.
The Council of Cardinals met in February 2020 for “an in-depth re-reading and revision” of the document.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the cardinals continued to review the text at virtual meetings with Pope Francis.
Seven cardinals currently serve on the Council of Cardinals, helped by secretary Bishop Marco Mellino: Honduran Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, who acts as coordinator; Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin; Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State; Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay; German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising; U.S. Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston; and Congolese Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu of Kinshasa.
In January 2021, Parolin said that “considerable progress” had already been made in the pope’s reform of the Roman Curia, particularly with regard to Vatican finances, pointing to the creation of the Council for the Economy, the Secretariat for the Economy, and the Office of the Revisor General.
He added that further reforms could include the merger of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples with the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization and the combination of the Congregation for Catholic Education with the Pontifical Council for Culture.
“But these are minor actions compared to what has already been done,” he said. “Now it is a question of giving homogeneity to all the reforms which have been made, by means of the new apostolic constitution.”
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