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The Pope reorganizes the Vatican to decentralize the power of the curia and open it to women and laity | International

The design has been known by chapters and there was almost nothing new to reveal. But the Vatican has published today by surprise, St. Joseph’s Day and the ninth anniversary of the Pontificate of Francis, the text of the Apostolic Constitution with which it certifies the reform of the curia and its structure. A new model of organization wanted by the Pope for eight years that tries to decentralize the power that he has accumulated for a long time, especially in organizations such as the Secretary of State, which will lose weight significantly. The tip of the pyramid becomes the Department for the Evangelization of Peoples, which gives a spirit of mission to the curia, as explained in the preamble of the document. In addition, this space will be structurally opened to laity and women, who would no longer have any formal impediment to presiding over the great ministries.

The new Constitution (Praedicate Evangelium), of 52 pages, officially modifies the organization chart of the Roman Curia – most of the restructuring had already been implemented and is working normally -, will enter into force on June 5, the date on which it will replace the “Pastor Bonus”, promulgated by John Paul II in 1988. The preparation of the design has lasted around eight years and has been configured in the meetings of the so-called C9, the council of cardinals that the Pope appointed upon his arrival to carry out this mission. Beyond that spirit of collaboration, Francisco has played a fundamental role in the new organization.

The opening to laity and women is one of the main novelties of the document. The idea, which has already begun to be implemented in departments such as communication and was about to be done in the Economy department —appointing a woman in charge was seriously considered— is included among the general principles. “It is the specification that everyone – and therefore also the laity and the faithful lay men and women – can be appointed to government functions by the Roman Curia, by virtue of the vicarious power of the Successor of Peter”. “Every Christian, by virtue of Baptism, is a missionary disciple to the extent that he has found the love of God in Christ Jesus. He cannot be ignored in the updating of the Curia, whose reform, therefore, must include the involvement of lay men and women, also in roles of government and responsibility”, it is pointed out.

The decentralization sought by the Pope is explained in the document by stressing that the Curia is an instrument at the service of the Bishop of Rome and “also for the benefit of the universal Church and, therefore, of the episcopates and the local Churches”. The norm, in this way, indicates that “it is not placed between the pope and the bishops, but is placed at the service of both in the ways proper to the nature of each one”. “In the spirit of a healthy decentralization, it is proposed to leave the competence of the diocesan pastors the power to resolve in the exercise of their own task as teachers and pastors the issues that they know well, that do not touch the unity of the doctrine, of discipline and communion”, points out the legislative text

Pope Francis, this Saturday at the Vatican.
Pope Francis, this Saturday at the Vatican.Andrew Medichini (AP)

Organization chart of the Vatican government

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The creation of the great dicastery for Evangelization, which includes the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, and which will be chaired directly by the pope. In addition, this ministry is the main one in the organizational chart of the Vatican government, while until now it was the Doctrine of the Faith, the former Holy Office. Precisely, this department will also undergo important changes, dividing its structure in two (the doctrinal part and the part that deals with judging crimes of abuse of minors) and will assume within it the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, “whose task is to advise and advise the pontiff and propose the most appropriate initiatives for the protection of minors and vulnerable people, ”reads the text.

The opening to laity and women is one of the main novelties of the document. The idea is included among the general principles. “It is the specification that everyone – and therefore also the laity and the faithful lay men and women – can be appointed to government functions by the Roman Curia, by virtue of the vicarious power of the Successor of Peter”. “Every Christian, by virtue of Baptism, is a missionary disciple to the extent that he has found the love of God in Christ Jesus. It cannot be ignored in the updating of the Curia, whose reform, therefore, must include the involvement of lay men and women, also in roles of government and responsibility”, it is pointed out.

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