Pope Francis, who has been working on a new constitution for the Roman Curia with his council of Cardinals (photo above) for several years, has now issued Praedicate Evangelium, (“Preach the Gospel”) which introduces wide-ranging and fundamental changes to the Vatican’s administration and bureaucracy. They aim to ensure that the Roman Curia, the oldest bureaucracy in the world, is better geared towards missionary evangelisation. Some of the most important changes include
Evangelisation: Pope Francis’ mission for the Church is reflected in a new Dicastery for Evangelisation, headed by the Pope himself, which takes precedence among the Vatican’s departments.
Charity: A welcome addition is a new Dicastery for charity, signalling its importance in the Church’s missionary work, and setting an example to dioceses everywhere.
Role of Laypeople: “The Pope, the bishops and other ordained ministers are not the only evangelisers in the Church,” the constitution’s introduction says. “The reform of the Curia, therefore, must include the involvement of laymen and women, also in roles of governance and responsibility.” Therefore, laymen or women can now “head a dicastery or organism”. This replaces provisions in the old constitution that required the majority of departments to be led by a bishop or cardinal.
Collaboration: “The Roman Curia does not stand between the Pope and the bishops, but rather places itself at the service of both,” Rather than continuing in its traditional bureaucratic role, the Curia is thus called to adopt a model in keeping with the Pope’s call for greater synodality in the Church.
Safeguarding: the safeguarding of minors moves from an advisory Pontifical Commission to a new Office within the new Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.