Could a new charity department lead a reformed Roman Curia?

The secretary of the Council of Cardinals will present tomorrow at the consistory a proposal for curial reform based on the pivotal notion of charity, according to a source who has seen the latest draft of the proposal.
The nine-member Council of Cardinals met Feb. 9-11 with Pope Francis at the Vatican’s St. Martha house, continuing their discussion on the reform of the Roman Curia. The meeting precedes a Feb. 12-13 consistory also discussing the reform, and a Feb. 14-15 consistory for the creation of new cardinals.
Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, who serves as coordinator of the Council of Cardinals, will report Thursday in front of the some 150 cardinals and cardinals-designate who are taking part in the consistory.
A source who has seen one of the latest updates of Bishop Semeraro’s draft told CNA Feb. 11 that “charity has now become pivotal in the new Congregation for Charity, Justice and Peace.”
The new congregation will include the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, Migrants, Cor Unum and Pastoral Health Care, and the first option was that of putting everything under the umbrella of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Following some observations of the chief of dicasteries, “the draft has been amended, and enriched with a theological basis. It now states that charity comes first, and provided several quotes from Benedict XVI’s encyclicals Deus Caritas Est and Caritas in veritate, as well as quotes by Bl. Paul VI,” the source explained.
According to the source, the super-congregation would now be “under the umbrella of the Pontifical Council of Cor Unum, and assisted by Caritas Internationalis, even though this latter may not be assimilated into a body of the Roman Curia.”
If this design come true, charity will be pivotal in the redesigned Roman Curia.
Bishop Semeraro’s presentation will follow an introduction by Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, who serves as coordinator of the Council of Cardinals.
The consistory will begin with a short address by Pope Francis, and an introduction by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals.
According to Father Lombardi, Holy See press officer, Cardinal Sodano’s speech will zero-in on the several adjustments Pastor bonus, the apostolic constitution on the Roman Curia promulgated in 1988, has undergone in the course of subsequent years.
Father Lombardi also stressed during a press briefing that “the comprehensive rewriting of the constitution will take time,” while it is possible that “in the mean time new bodies are established” in order to start building the new structure of the curia.
He also underscored that one first step toward curial reform may be “the creation of two super-congregations, the Congregation for Charity, Justice and Peace, and the Congregation for Laity, Family and Life.”
A source who works in a pontifical council underscored Feb. 11 that this “streamlining of the curia would lead to a diminution of the curial cardinals, and to an increase of lay people employed at the Vatican,” and that this is “reflected in Pope Francis’ picks for the last consistory, which awarded just one archbishop from the Roman Curia.”
The streamlining of the Roman Curia may be further achieved by the establishment of a central body for Vatican communications, which would also act as a central coordination body for editorial contents.
“This is one of the ideas the Vatican committee for communication is working on,” a source close to members of the Vatican communication committee said Feb. 8.
An interim report of the committee was presented Feb. 10 to the Council of Cardinals by Msgr. Paul Tighe, who serves as secretary of the committee.
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, reported to the Council Feb. 9 about the role the Pontifical Council he leads may have in the curial reform.
According to the Portuguese agency “Ecclesia,” Cardinal Ravasi proposed to elevate his council to the rank of a super-congregation, which would also include the Congregation for Catholic Education and would administer the Vatican Apostolic Library and the Vatican Observatory and the Vatican Museums.
The Council of Cardinals also heard reports on the newly-established Secretariat for the Economy and the Council for the Economy, with a view to the finalization of the statutes for the two new bodies.
Father Lombardi said Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston is expected to address the Council of Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon, updating them on the work of the Commission for the Protection of Minors.
The Council of Cardinals has scheduled its next meeting for April 13-15, and is also expected to meet in July.
Father Lombardi underscored that “there is a long path forward to carry out curial reform.”

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