Pope Francis’ inspection of Vatican Congregation for Clergy one of many to come

View of St Peters Cupola from the Augustinianum in Rome Italy on July 1 2015 Credit Bohumil Petrik CNA 7 29 15 View of St. Peter's Basilica. | Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

For the second time in months, Pope Francis has ordered an inspection of a top Vatican dicastery whose head will step down, revealing a modus operandi that might be replicated in other transitions.

The news of the inspection emerged days before the appointment of the congregation’s new prefect, the South Korean Bishop Lazarus You Heung-sik, on June 11.

Bishop Egidio Miragoli of Mondovì, in northern Italy, told priests of his diocese on June 7 that the pope had entrusted him with an inspection of the Congregation for the Clergy, responsible for the world’s diocesan priests and deacons.

Miragoli began the inspection last Wednesday, and he anticipated that the inspections would last “for the whole month of June” and commit him “from two to three days per week.”

He also said that the pope told him in a private meeting on June 3 about the scope of the inspection.

No official information on the inspection has been released.

According to a source close to the Congregation for the Clergy, the inspection “is conducted via interviews and talks with the Congregation officials.”

“Pope Francis wants to focus on tasks and roles of each member of the congregation, to decide how to better organize the staff for the new prefect,” the source said.

Bishop You succeeds Cardinal Beniamino Stella. One of the pope’s closest confidants, Stella turns 80 on Aug. 18, meaning that he will be five years older than the customary age for retirement. On June 11, the Vatican said that Stella would remain in the post until his successor takes office.

Miragoli has already begun the inspection and had one-to-one meetings with some of the congregation’s officials, the source said.

In March, Bishop Claudio Maniago of Castellaneta, southern Italy, inspected the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments. Also in that case, there was no official release about the inspection and the scope of the inspection was not revealed. Maniago reportedly concluded the inspection quite quickly.

The inspection began after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Robert Sarah, who had served as prefect of the congregation since 2014. Sarah resigned because he had turned 75, the age when a bishop is expected to retire.

According to the source, Pope Francis is willing to send an inspection any time a transition occurs in the Roman Curia.

“The next dicasteries to be inspected might be the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for the Eastern Churches,” he said.

The prefect of the Congregation for Bishops is Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who just turned 77. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, will be 78 in November.

The source maintained that the inspections were “not intended as a punishment, but as a way to enact the curia reform.”

The reform, which has been under discussion ever since Pope Francis’ election in 2013, will change the composition of the curia, merge some dicasteries into others and tweak the statutes of each dicastery to better fit with the pope’s indications, with priority given to the notion of a “missionary Church.”

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According to the source, Bishop Miragoli came to the pope’s attention while he was serving in the college for the examination of appeals in matters of delicta reservata (serious offenses) at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Pope Francis appointed Miragoli as a member of the college on July 29. 2019.

The college’s president is Archbishop Charles Scicluna, archbishop of Malta and adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

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