04 December 2014, The Tablet

New congregations planned as doors open to laity

The cardinal responsible for overseeing Pope Francis’ reform of the Roman Curia has confirmed that two new congregations will be set up and suggested that lay people could be appointed to lead some of Rome’s dicasteries.

Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, coordinator of the so-called C9, a council of cardinals set up to re-organise the curia, told the Italian website Vatican Insider that two bodies dedicated to the laity and to charity were in the process of being set up.

These two congregations will be drawn from a merger of the existing pontifical councils for the laity, the family, migrants, health-care workers, justice and peace, and the Church’s charitable arm, Cor Unum. Cardinal Rodríguez also said the Secretariat of State would probably undergo a “redistribution of internal tasks”.

The Honduran cardinal also said that Rome’s congregations and pontifical councils did not have to be led by clergy. “It is also not necessary for there to be a cardinal or a bishop heading every dicastery: there could be a married couple in charge of family affairs, for example, and for migrants there could be a nun who has specific experience in this area, a member of the Scalabrinian missionaries, for instance.” On possible judicial reform he said: “I think it would be a good idea to have one single ministry of Justice in the Church … with one single head.”

One purpose of the reforms was to have fewer cardinals behind desks in Rome, he said. “The Curia must no longer be perceived as a papal court or as the Church’s centralised super-government. It needs to be an energetic structure, there to serve the papal ministry,” he told the website.

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