The citation from Sciacca is one of many that show that Boni’s concern is not that of an isolated scholar.
Indeed, in recent years canonists have frequently noted, in more or less specialized texts, the risks inherent in this centralized legislative action.
The question is: if the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts has in practice been set aside, along with canon law, who or what is going to function as an overseeing body to check whether new rules are consistent with the existing legislative framework?
Leaks concerning the coming overhaul of the Roman Curia are not encouraging. Praedicate Evangelium — the apostolic constitution that will regulate functions and tasks of curial offices — reportedly reduces the pontifical council to the status of an “office.” This means, according to Boni, that “canon law no longer has citizenship in the legislative activity of the pope.”
Boni’s investigation leaves many open questions. In this situation, is there legal certainty or is everything instead entrusted to the supreme legislator, who does not hesitate to adjust his provisions according to the situation, or when these do not prove consistent with the legal framework already in place?
Beyond those questions, there are other issues, such as why the pope is acting in this way. An answer might be found in the Evangelii gaudium, his “programmatic” apostolic exhortation issued in 2013.
Two of Evangelii gaudium’s main principles are “time is greater than space” and “realities are more important than ideas.” For this reason, the pope opens processes without worrying too much about the consequences. As he has often said, one cannot be held back by the rationale that “things have always been this way.”
The pope does not make cast-iron plans because realities come first. Curial reform is made “while walking,” as Cardinal Marcello Semeraro noted in the magazine Il Regno while he was serving as secretary of the pope’s Council of Cardinals.
Even legislative action, then, is subject to Pope Francis’ pragmatic approach. That rings alarm bells for Boni and other scholars of canon law. As laws can be made and then adjusted, how will it be possible to have a coherent legislative framework?
This is the reason why this book is not just about the marginalization of a dicastery. Instead, it shows the threat of a crisis for canon law.