Tuesday, 29 March 2022 22:22

Pope Francis and the reform/ re-organisation of the Roman Curia.

Pope Francis and the reform/ re-organisation of the Roman Curia.

pope curia

We recommend the article by Fr Brian Lucas in Eureka Street. 


Here are some key paragraphs.

Pope Francis, on the feast of Saint Joseph, has promulgated an apostolic constitution Praedicate evangelium (To preach the Gospel) to bring all the curial reform into a single document.

The broad orientation of this reform is captured in the imagery of Jesus’ action at the last supper when he washed the feet of his disciples. Evangelisation and missionary service is at the heart of the document. The Roman Curia is to be at the service of the Pope and the local churches. ‘The Roman Curia does not place itself between the Pope and the Bishops, but rather places itself at the service of both in the manner that is proper to the nature of each.’

Without any ambiguity, Pope Francis begins with the model of communion. There is a specific reference to synodality, that is, to a church of mutual listening and walking together.

lay curia panel

The role of the laity is acknowledged: ‘It cannot be ignored in the updating of the Curia, whose reform, therefore, must provide for the involvement of lay people, even in roles of government and responsibility’. Further, ‘any member of the faithful can preside over a Dicastery or an entity, given the particular competence, power of governance and function of the latter.’ This opens the way for lay women and men and to take significant leadership roles, but it remains to be seen how this will operate in practice. Clergy and religious provide a less expensive workforce but the criterion should be competence. At least the clarity of the statement should open more possibilities for lay appointments at the highest levels.

francis reform

Political jousting between offices is undermined with the statement that each body is explicitly said to be juridically equal, thus removing a past tendency for some to consider they had a preeminent position.

women curia

These new structures reflect Pope Francis’ vision of a missionary church at the service of the world. Structures are important but the commitment to this vision by those who work within them will ultimately determine the success of this reform. More importantly will be the way in which those in the local church orient their attitude to the Roman Curia. Will it be seen as a constructive partner in the work of evangelisation or a bureaucratic obstacle that is best avoided?

brian lucas

Fr Brian Lucas is National Director of Catholic Mission Australia.