Pope Francis promulgates the text of the Apostolic Constitution “Praedicate Evangelium”, which gives a more missionary structure to the Roman Curia so that it is better at the service of the local Churches and the task of evangelization.
By Andrea Tornielli & Sergio Centofanti
On the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Pope Francis promulgated the new Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, entitled “predicate evangelium“. The text, which governs the Roman Curia, will enter into force on June 5, 2022, Solemnity of Pentecost.
The Constitution marks the culmination of a long process of listening that began with the General Congregations that preceded the Conclave of 2013. The new Constitution replaces “Minister’s bonus“, promulgated by Pope Saint John Paul II on June 28, 1988 and in force since March 1, 1989 and composed of 250 articles.
Monday, March 21 at 11:30 a.m. predicate evangelium will be presented to the Press Office of the Holy See by Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Monsignor Marco Mellino, Secretary of the Council of Cardinals, and Jesuit Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, Canonist and Professor Emeritus at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
The text, as mentioned, is the result of a long collegial work, which was inspired by the pre-conclave meetings of 2013, and involved the Council of Cardinals with meetings from October 2013 to last February, under the direction of Pope Francis and with various contributions from local churches around the world.
Curia focused on evangelization
It should be noted that the new Constitution calls for a path of reform that has already been almost fully implemented over the past nine years, through the mergers and adjustments that have taken place and have led to the creation of new dicasteries.
The text emphasizes that “the Roman Curia is made up of the Secretariat of State, the Dicasteries and the Offices, all equal in law”.
Among the most significant developments in this regard contained in the document is the unification in Dicastery for Evangelization of the former Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. The two heads of these offices both become pro-prefects, because the prefecture of this new department is reserved for the Pope. Indeed, the Constitution says: “The Dicastery for Evangelization is presided over directly by the Roman Pontiff”.
Charity to the poor and marginalized
The Dicastery for the Service of Charity, represented by the Office of Papal Charities, is then established, which thus assumes a more important role in the Curia.
“The Dicastery for the Service of Charity, also called the Apostolic Elemosineriais a unique expression of mercy and, starting from the option for the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized, carries out worldwide the work of assistance and assistance in the name of the Roman Pontiff, who, in the event of deprivation special or other necessity, personally takes care of the assistance to be provided.”
The Apostolic Constitution begins by presenting in the following order: the departments for evangelization, the doctrine of the faith and the service of charity.
Another unification concerns the Commission for the Protection of Minors, which is part of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, continues to operate with its own standards and has its own president and secretary.
A fundamental part of the document is that concerning the general principles. The preamble recalls that every Christian is a missionary disciple.
Fundamental among the general principles is the designation that anyone – including the lay faithful – can be appointed to roles of government in the Roman Curia under the vicarious power of the Successor of Peter.
At the service of the Pope and the local Churches
The Constitution also emphasizes that the Curia is an instrument at the service of the Bishop of Rome also for the benefit of the universal Church and therefore of the episcopates and local Churches.
“The Roman Curia does not place itself between the pope and the bishops; rather, it puts itself at the service of both according to modalities specific to the nature of each. Another significant point concerns spirituality: the members of the Roman Curia are also “missionary disciples”.
Synodality in particular is put forward as an ordinary way of working for the Roman Curia, a way already in place, and to be developed more and more.
Limitation of the mandate of clerics and religious
Other aspects contained in the document include the emphasis placed on the definition of the Secretariat of State as a “pontifical secretariat”, the transfer of the Office of Personnel from the Curia to the Secretariat for the Economy (SPE) and the indication that the See Apostolic Church Heritage Administration (APSA) should carry out its work through the instrumental activity of the Institute of Works of Religion.
The Constitution also establishes that for clerics and religious serving in the Roman Curia, the term is five years and can be renewed for a second term of five years, after which they return to their original dioceses and communities.