For anyone even vaguely interested in the reform of the Roman Curia and what the central administration of the Catholic Church will look like in the future, the analysis below by vaticanista Sandro Magister of L’Espresso magazine is a must read.

The thousands of employees of the offices of the Roman Curia, the tribunals and other organizations linked to the Holy See for years have been avidly following all mention and analysis of the reform of the Curia and its forthcoming constitution, said to be titled “Praedicate Evangelium” (Preach the Gospel), that will replace St. John Paul’s 1988 constitution “Pastor Bonus,” (The Good Shepherd). They have kept their ears to the ground from the very first mention of a reform in the early months of Francis’ papacy.

I still had my show, “Joan Knows” at Vatican Radio when word first came out of a reform and I watched as, over the months and then years, morale among employees sank to an indescribable low. As changes were slowly made in some offices, people wondered on a Monday if they would still have a job on Friday. The Pope asked that people not be fired in the reform but, whether he knows it or not, people were moved around. Staff trained in a specific area with specific skills – such as the multi-lingual, multi-talented people at Vatican Radio – often found themselves transferred to an office for whose work they had no particular skills.

In any case, criticism of the proposed new curial organization has poured in ever since drafts were leaked in various languages. The constitution is now in the hands of Episcopal conferences throughout the world, superiors of religious orders and many others who are being asked to evaluate the document and suggest changes, additions, and/or deletions. (CNA photo)

One of the strongest criticisms so far seems directed to the fact that far greater prominence will be given to the office of evangelization than to the current Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office that safeguards the millennia-old teaching of the Catholic Church. The Secretariat of State will assume increased importance as well.**

I firmly believe that prominence should go to doctrine for the sole reasons that this is the “product” of evangelizers. You have to have sound doctrine first. You don’t open a restaurant without food. You might have an amazing chef and an unparalleled serving staff but they have no value without the food. As a missionary, an evangelizer, the food you bring to people is doctrine, food for the soul.

As I have with other critiques of the draft of the Roman Curia constitution, I found this analysis to be very interesting. Be sure to click on the links that Sandro provides.

By Sandro Magister

Last July 8 Pope Francis previewed another fragment of what will be the future Vatican curia, once its new configuration definitively goes into effect.

He appointed six nuns, all superiors general of their respective orders, among the members of the congregation for religious, breaking with the practice that did not allow women to be part of the curial congregations, until now made up only of bishops and cardinals, or at the most of male superiors general.

Properly speaking, Francis had already made an initial rift in 2014, when he appointed as a member of the congregation “De Propaganda Fide” Sister Irma Luzia Premoli, superior general of the Comboni missionaries. But what was an exception then is now becoming the rule, and it is to be expected that other similar appointments of women will follow in droves.

The cardinals of the “C9” who assist the pope in the governance of the universal Church – in reality now reduced to six – toiled for years over this reform of the curia, to arrive at last in recent months at the composition of a draft that has been shown to a certain number of churchmen at various levels.

Rewritten on the basis of ongoing consultations, the new constitution – which now has the temporary title of “Praedicate Evangelium” – will reportedly “be by September or at the latest before the end of the year in the hands of the pope, who will then take his time for the final approval.”

But to go by the comments published after the draft started making the rounds, it must be radically revised in order to satisfy the critiques that have torn it to shreds. On both the right and the left of ecclesiastical affiliation, practically no one has appreciated the structure of the reform. Suffice it to say that after reading it the Jesuit Thomas Reese, former editor of the magazine of the New York Jesuits “America” and a prominent representative of progressive Catholicism, judged it as “a disaster.” (click to read)

If one wishes to say briefly what are the main new developments in the draft, it is good to start from the general index, which in effect highlights innovations with respect to the previous arrangement of the Vatican curia.

In the draft, what were previously the congregations and – on a lower level – the pontifical councils are equated under the same title of “dicasteries.” And while until now each of them had to be headed “by the cardinal prefect or by an archbishop president,” the draft speaks only of “prefects” without specifying if they should be cardinals or archbishops, and on the contrary establishes that they could also be laymen, as in fact has already happened in the newly created dicastery for communication, which has as its prefect Paolo Ruffini.

Only for the secretariat of state does the draft establish that the head is to be a cardinal, as also for the new council for the economy, the coordinator of which – who is currently German cardinal Reinhard Marx – also takes on the duty of cardinal “camerlengo” between one pontificate and the next.

It is the secretariat of state, in effect, that is the dominant element of the new curia. But already in the general index of the drafts one can also note another substantial change: the downgrading of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith from the top spot among the congregations to the second place on the list of the new dicasteries.

So here is the general index, outlined according to the various chapters of the draft.


** the real big development in the new curia sketched out in the draft is the preponderant role assigned to the secretariat of state, with a centralization in it of powers that has no equal in the past.

And this, in effect, is the development most in the crosshairs of the critiques. Exemplary among these is that of Ed Condon on Catholic News Agency July 2:> Analysis: New Vatican constitution to centralize power in state secretariat

But the critiques are not limited to the canonical aspect alone. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, interviewed by Edward Pentin for the National Catholic Register of July 5, also disputed them on the theological level: “They’re converting the institution of the Curia into simply a bureaucracy, into only functionalism and not an ecclesiastical institute.”



As I was reading my copy of “Magnificat” this morning, I was stunned to learn that today, February 21 is the feast of St. Peter Damian, a prelate who, half a millennia ago, worked tirelessly to reform the Church, in particular to rid the Church of clerical sex abuse!

And today – intended or not by the Vatican – is the start of the 4-day meeting on the Protection of Minors against clerical sex abuse!

“Magnificat” had this to say about Peter Damian:

“As a young professor, Peter Damian joined the followers of St. Romuald at the foundation of Monte Avellino, distinguishing himself by his austerities and his ardent love of the cross. In 1057 Peter left the silence of the hermitage to serve as cardinal bishop of Ostia. He tirelessly countered clerical abuses. His diverse writings extolled the primacy of the spiritual over the secular. Pope Benedict said of St Peter Damian, doctor of the Church: “He spent himself with lucid consistency and great severity for the reform of the Church of his time.”

St. Peter Damian was, in fact, a reforming Benedictine monk and cardinal in the circle of Pope Leo IX who died in 1072. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1828. His feast day is 21 February.

As one biography notes: Although living in the seclusion of the cloister, Peter Damian closely watched the fortunes of the Church, and like his friend Hildebrand, the future Pope Gregory VII, he strove for reforms in a deplorable time. When Benedict IX resigned the pontificate into the hands of the archpriest John Gratian (Gregory VI) in 1045, Peter hailed the change with joy and wrote to the new pope, urging him to deal with the scandals of the church in Italy, singling out the wicked bishops of Pesaro, of Città di Castello and of Fano.

About 1050, during the pontificate of Pope Leo IX, he wrote a scathing treatise on the vices of the clergy, including sexual abuse of minors and actions by church superiors to hide the crimes. “Liber Gomorrhianus” was openly addressed to the pope. (CWR image)

And half a millennia later, reformers are alive and well and trying to root out what Damian called “the filth, the rot” that was in the Church.


Although he was present for almost the entire morning session of the consistory of the College of Cardinals, Pope Francis at one point went to a small room off the Paul VI Hall to receive Mrs. Signora Shahindokht Molaverdi, vie-president of the Islamic Republic of Iran.


Pope Francis Thursday morning, in his address to 165 members of the College of Cardinals at the start of a two-day consistory, said the work being done on the reform of the Roman Curia, “is not an end in itself, but a means to give a strong Christian witness; to promote a more effective evangelization; to promote a more fruitful ecumenical spirit; to encourage a more constructive dialogue with all.” He added that this goal “is not easy to achieve, but rather “requires time, determination and above all, everyone’s cooperation. (ANSA photo – – Pope Francis and Cardinal Dolan)


The 20 cardinals that Francis will create on Saturday, including 15 electors, were present at the consistory.

The Holy Father opened the morning session of the first day of the consistory. Cardinals will meet again this afternoon and are schedule to meet all day Friday.

“Dear brothers,

“’How good, how delightful it is to live as brothers all together!’ (Ps 133,1). In the words of the Psalm we give praise to the Lord who has called us together and gives us the grace to welcome the 20 new cardinals in this session. To them and to all, I give my cordial greetings. Welcome to this communion, which is expressed in collegiality.

“Thanks to all those who have prepared this event, especially to His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals. I thank the Commission of nine Cardinals and the coordinator, His Eminence Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga. I also thank His Excellency Marcello Semeraro, Secretary of the Commission of Nine Cardinals: Today he will present a summary of the work done in recent months to develop the new Apostolic Constitution for the reform of the Curia. As we know, this summary has been prepared on the basis of many suggestions, even those made by the heads of the Dicasteries, as well as experts in the field.

“The goal to be reached is always that of promoting greater harmony in the work of the various Dicasteries and Offices, in order to achieve a more effective collaboration in that absolute transparency which builds authentic sinodality and collegiality.

“The reform is not an end in itself, but a means to give a strong Christian witness; to promote a more effective evangelization; to promote a more fruitful ecumenical spirit; to encourage a more constructive dialogue with all.

“The reform, strongly advocated by the majority of the Cardinals in the context of the general congregations before the conclave, will further perfect the identity of the same Roman Curia, which is to assist the Successor of Peter in the exercise of his supreme pastoral office for the good of and in the service of the universal Church and the particular Churches. This exercise serves to strengthen the unity of faith and communion of the people of God and promote the mission of the Church in the world.

“Certainly, it is not easy to achieve such a goal: it requires time, determination and above all  everyone’s cooperation. But to achieve this we must first entrust ourselves to the Holy Spirit, the true guide of the Church, imploring the gift of authentic discernment in prayer.

“It is in this spirit of collaboration that our meeting begins, which will be fruitful thanks to the contribution which each of us can express with parrhesía, fidelity to the Magisterium and the knowledge that all of this contributes to the supreme law, that being the salus animarum. Thank You.”


(VIS) – A total of 165 cardinals participated in this morning’s first session of the Extraordinary Consistory with the Holy Father. Twenty-five were unable to attend due to illness or other serious problems, according to a report from the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., following the morning meeting.


Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga explained that the meeting of the Council of Cardinals (the so-called “C9”) which came to an end yesterday afternoon, focused primarily but not exclusively on the reform of the Curia. Other themes addressed were the regulation of the Synod, the work of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, and relations with the economic entities of the Holy See (COSEA and IOR).

Bishop Marcello Semeraro, secretary of the C9, presented the main lines of reform of the Roman Curia, in the light of the meeting of heads of the dicasteries that took place in November 2014. The issues to be considered are the functions of the Roman Curia, its relationship with other entities such as the episcopal conferences, the criteria for rationalization and simplification that must guide it in its tasks, the Secretariat of State, the coordination of the dicasteries of the Curia, the relationship between religious and laypersons and the procedures that must govern the preparation of the new constitution.

Reference was also made to the institution of two congregations. The first would encompass those organisms that until now have been concerned with the laity, the family and life. The second would deal with matters linked to charity, justice and peace. The collaboration of the pontifical councils and academies dedicated to these themes could be strengthened.

Twelve prelates intervened during the morning session, observed Fr. Lombardi: mainly cardinals who have a profound knowledge of the workings of the Curia, although there have been contributions from a diverse range of contexts. It has been observed that reform is twofold, theological and juridical, and many of its assumptions relate to canon law and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, as well as relationships with the episcopates. It was also noted that the Pope is assisted not only by the Curia, but also by the College of Cardinals and the Synod of Bishops. In this regard, the themes of synodality and collegiality were discussed, and preference was expressed for the latter denomination rather than the former.

The issue of the ongoing training of staff of the Roman Curia was not overlooked, and consideration was given to the possibility of a rotation of duties to counteract routine. In this sector, both favourable and contrary opinions were expressed by the cardinals, who emphasised that some fields require a high level of specialisation and that for this reason, change would be inadvisable.


On Saturday, February 14, at 11 am in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis will preside at an Ordinary Public Consistory for the creation of new cardinals and to vote on several causes of canonization: Blessed Jeanne-Emilie De Villeneuve, foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Castres, Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified (nee Maryam Baouardy), professed nun of the Order of Discalced Carmelites and Blessd Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas (nee Maryam Sultanah), co-foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Rosary of Jerusalem of the Latins.

Click here for booklet of the ceremony:

The afternoon of February 14 the courtesy visits to the new cardinals will take place in the locations indicated below:

PAUL VI HALLAtrium:  Cardinals:

Manuel Jose Macario do Nascimento Clemente, Patriarch of Lisbon (Portugal)

Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, C.M; Archbishop of Addis Abeba (Ethiopia)

John Atcherley Dew; Archbishop of Wellington (New Zealand)

Edoardo Menichelli, Archbishop of Ancona-Osimo (Italy)

Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon, Archbishop of Hà Nôi (Viêt Nam)

Alberto Suarez Inda, Archbishop of Morelia (Mexico)

PAUL VI HALL – Main Hall:  Cardinals:

Charles Maung Bo, S.D.B. Archbishop of Yangon (Myanmar)

Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, Archbishop of Bangkok (Thailand)

Francesco Montenegro, Archbishop of Agrigento (Italy)

Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet, S.D.B., Archbishop of Montevideo (Uruguay)

Ricardo Blázquez Pérez, Archbishop of Vallodolid (Spain)

José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán, O.A.R.,  Bishop of David (Panamá)

Arlindo Gomes Furtado, Bishop of Santiago de Cabo Verde (Archipelago of Cape Verde)

Soane Patita Paini Mafi, Bishop of Tonga (Island of Tonga)


Sala Regia: Cardinals Dominique Mamberti, prefect of the tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and Luigi De Magistris; prefect emeritus

Sala Ducale: Cardinals Karl-Joseph Rauber (Apostolic nuncio emeritus), Luis Hector Villalba (Archbishop emeritus of Tucumán, Argentina) and Julio Duarte Langa (Bishop emeritus of Xai-Xai, Mozambique)