Pope Francis’ council of cardinals advisers have issued a progress report setting out the guidelines for reforming the Roman Curia and what has been achieved after five years.
The seven-page document, released by the Vatican today, lists twenty-five separate papal rulings aimed at restructuring the curia to ensure it serves a Church focussed on mission.
Publishing this document will, however, be read as a riposte to critics who argue the Pope’s institutional reforms are stalling and have achieve little of substance.
Among the long awaited changes is a new constitution for the Roman Curia, and the report issued today says that “the first systematic text” is now ready to be delivered to Francis for review.
Holy See spokesman Greg Burke told journalists that the constitution had been given the provisional title of “Praedicate Evangelium” (“Proclaim the Gospel). Mr Burke says that the Pope is then likely to send the text to those outside his advisory body to get feedback on the document from the wider Church.
In the meantime, the curia still makes use of the constitution produced by “Pastor Bonus”, which was produced by Pope John Paul II in 1988 and which the council of cardinals are seeking to update.
The document makes it clear that the “guiding principle” of the reforms are for the Church to adopt an attitude of mission, while the Pope and his advisers have been following three criteria when assessing changes: tradition, aggiornamento (the principle of updating) and coordination.
These principles have been drawn from the document which acts as the manifesto for Francis’ papacy, “Evangelii Gaudium”, which sets out the vision of a nimble, service-orientated, pastoral and evangelising Church.
Among the 25 reform acts include overhauls of the Vatican finances, statues for new Vatican departments and the creation of the papal child protection commission.
The council of cardinals - known as the C9 - is made up of prelates representing various parts of the world. One of the members, Australian Cardinal George Pell, was not present at the meeting as he is back in Australia fighting charges of historic sex offences. He denies them.
Francis set up the C9 soon after his election as Pope after the idea of an advisory body of cardinals was proposed during during the pre-election meetings before the conclave which chose him.
The group is, however, only advisory with major decisions ultimately resting in the hands of the Pope.