The Reform of the Curia: A Democratic Preparation

July 02, 2019
Bishop Marcello Semeraro, secretary of the Council of Cardinals and Pope Francis

A rumor had been circulating about the possible publication of the Apostolic Constitution on the Reform of the Roman Curia on June 29 of this year. But following the meeting of the Council of Cardinals (C9) on June 25, 2019, the Vatican gave a brief overview of the progress of the work.

The draft text of the document was sent to the presidents of the national bishops’ conferences, the Synods of the Eastern Churches, the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, the Conferences of Major Superiors of religious orders, and a few Pontifical Universities which were asked to send observations and suggestions.

Bishop Marcello Semeraro, secretary of the Council of Cardinals commented, “The Curia is a service organization and it is good that it continues on the path of change and reform so that this same service can be mainly ecclesial and then able to respond to the challenges of the world and the Church it serves.”

The interim Director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, for his part clarified that the new Apostolic Constitution should be in the hands of the Sovereign Pontiff between September and December, and its promulgation could occur around December.

Bishop Semeraro also affirmed that the draft of the Constitution included a number of aspects related to the promotion and protection of life, the environment, culture, attention to sports, and the presence of women in the Church.

Admittedly, it is customary for the Holy See to consult experts to draw up important documents, but what is much less so is such widespread consultation, especially for an organism which depends directly on the pope to assist it in the governing of the Church. This does not bode well, especially since the first elements we have available—warnings from Cardinal Müller and fragments given by the Vatican—seem to diminish the Curia to a mere coordinating service, subject as much to the pope as to the Synod and the episcopal conferences.

In other words, the Curia will have to undergo a “synodal” and collegial integration, in line with the Second Vatican Council. This integration will thus realize the dream of the reformers—the pope is only the head of the college of bishops, and the Church will be placed in a state of permanent council. The authority of the pope will come to lose its specificity in favor of the “peripheries” so dear to Pope Bergoglio.