• Justin Haggerty | The Daily Knight

Praedicate evangelium: Pope Francis reforms Roman Curia with launch of Vatican constitution

Justin Haggerty | The Daily Knight

Pope Francis and the Roman Curia, Vatican, 2019

The Vatican published on Saturday Pope Francis’ Praedicate evangelium, a reform of the organization and structure of the Roman Curia.

The apostolic constitution, Praedicate evangelium (“Preach the Gospel”), published on March 19, has been under production for nearly a decade by the pope’s Council of Cardinal Advisers.

Praedicate evangelium underlines that “any member of the faithful” can lead one of newly constituted Vatican dicasteries or other bodies, “given their particular competence, power of governance and function.”

The newly reformed constitution replaces Pastor bonus, the apostolic constitution on the Roman Curia promulgated by Pope John Paul II on June 28, 1988. Pastor bonus was modified by Popes Benedict XVI and Francis.

An end to congregations or pontifical councils

Under Praedicate evangelium, all current apostolic departments within the Vatican body are redubbed "dicasteries."

The newly reformed constitution states: “The Roman Curia is composed of the Secretariat of State, the Dicasteries and other bodies, all juridically equal to each other.”

The 16 dicasteries are as follows:

  • Dicastery for Evangelization

  • Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith

  • Dicastery for the Service of Charity

  • Dicastery for the Eastern Churches

  • Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

  • Dicastery for the Causes of Saints

  • Dicastery for Bishops

  • Dicastery for the Clergy

  • Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life

  • Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life

  • Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity

  • Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue

  • Dicastery for Culture and Education

  • Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development

  • Dicastery for Legislative Texts

  • Dicastery for Communication

Attempting to consolidate functions and responsibilities, Praedicate evangelium made “it became necessary to reduce the number of departments, joining together those whose purpose was very similar or complementary, and rationalize their functions with the aim of avoiding overlapping of competencies and making their work more effective.”

Evangelization laps Doctrine of the Faith

Rather than the old Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Dicastery for Evangelization is listed first among the dicasteries in Praedicate evangelium.

Split into two divisions, the "dicastery" will address the “fundamental questions of evangelization in the world” and “the first evangelization and the new particular Churches in the territories of its competence.”

A Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith

Within the old Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Praedicate evangelium reorganized the internal structure of the office, separating it into two divisions: a doctrinal office and a disciplinary office.

Praedicate evangelium states that the dicastery will work with local Bishops “in the exercise of their mission as authentic teachers and teachers of the faith, for which they are bound to safeguard and promote the integrity of that faith.”

By the newly reformed constitution, the dicastery “examines writings and opinions that appear contrary or harmful to the right faith and morals; it seeks dialogue with their authors and presents suitable remedies to be made, in accordance with its own norms.”

Moreover, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith “endeavors to ensure that there is an adequate refutation of the dangerous errors and doctrines which are spread among the Christian people.”

Worship, liturgical books, and the Tridentine Mass (Traditional Latin Mass)

Praedicate evangelium states that the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is responsible for “the drafting or revision and updating of the typical [traditionally Latin] editions of liturgical books.”

“The dicastery confirms the translations of liturgical books into current languages and gives recognitio [ecclesial recognition] to their appropriate adaptations to local cultures, legitimately approved by the bishops’ conferences,” the newly reformed constitution states.

The document includes that “the dicastery deals with the regulation and discipline of the sacred liturgy as regards the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.”

In July 2021, Pope Francis' Traditionis custodes placed multiple restrictions on the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, commonly known as the Traditional Latin Mass or the extraordinary form of the Mass.

Dicastery for the Causes of Saints

Praedicate evangelium, with regards to the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, states “it is for the dicastery to judge the granting of the title of Doctor of the Church to a saint, after having obtained the vote of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith concerning their eminent doctrine.”

Secretariat of State

Praedicate evangelium stated that the office of the Secretariat, overseen by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, “closely assists the Roman Pontiff in the exercise of his supreme mission.”

The newly reformed constitution stated the office's roles and responsibilities as such: the Section for General Affairs; the Section for Relations with States and International Organizations; and the Section for Diplomatic Personnel of the Holy See.

Published Goals of the reformed constitution

Praedicate evangelium's guiding principles for reform were: “Service to the Pope’s mission,” “ Co-responsibility in the communio,” “Service to the mission of the Bishops,” “Support for the particular Churches and their Episcopal Conferences and Eastern hierarchical structures,” “The vicarious nature of the Roman Curia,” “Spirituality,” “Personal integrity and professionalism,” “Collaboration between the Dicasteries,” “Interdicasterial and intradicasterial meetings,” “Expression of catholicity,” and “Reduction of Dicasteries.”

Formal announcement to the public

Praedicate evangelium will be formally release the newly reformed constitution on Monday, March 21.

Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Bishop Mellino, and canon law expert Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S.J, will speak during the press conference.

The press conference will address the constitution's “continuity with these two recent reforms [20th century by Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II] and with gratitude for the generous and competent service that over time so many members of the Curia have offered to the Roman Pontiff and to the universal Church, this new apostolic constitution proposes to better harmonize the current exercise of the Curia’s service with the path of evangelization that the Church, especially in this season, is living.”

In Christ Crucified and the Most Victorious Heart of Jesus.

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