Pope Francis merges 4 foundations into new Vatican hospitality body

Pope Francis is pictured outside the Casa Santa Marta on July 1, 2021. Pope Francis is pictured outside the Casa Santa Marta on July 1, 2021. | Vatican Media.

Pope Francis issued a decree on Thursday merging four foundations into a new Vatican institution dedicated to hospitality.

The document, known as a chirograph, united the foundations under a new body known as the Domus Vaticanae. The pope said that he was taking the step “considering the new situation that has matured over time.”

The May 5 decree merged the Domus Sanctae Marthae, Domus Romana Sacerdotalis, Domus Internationalis Paulus VI, and Casa San Benedetto foundations into the new institution, which the pope established as a public canonical juridic person based in the Vatican City State.

The text said that the new body would pursue the hospitality goals of the merged foundations in line with the provisions of the apostolic constitution Universi Dominici gregis, “which reserves the building of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, during the conclave for the election of the Supreme Pontiff, for the exclusive use of the cardinal electors.”

Universi Dominici gregis, issued by Pope John Paul II in 1996, sets out the rules governing the process of electing a new pope.

Section 43 of the apostolic constitution says that “From the beginning of the electoral process until the public announcement that the election of the Supreme Pontiff has taken place … the rooms of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, and in particular the Sistine Chapel and the areas reserved for liturgical celebrations are to be closed to unauthorized persons.”

The Domus Sanctae Marthae, also known as the Casa Santa Marta or St. Martha’s House, is a guest house adjacent to St. Peter’s Basilica. It was opened in 1996 to accommodate clergy visiting the Vatican, as well as cardinals taking part in papal conclaves. Pope Francis chose to live in the building, rather than the Apostolic Palace, after his election in 2013.

In 1999, John Paul II established the foundations Domus Romana Sacerdotalis and Domus Internationalis Paulus VI, offering hospitality to clergy assigned to the diplomatic service of the Holy See or working in the Roman Curia, as well as priests, bishops, and cardinals visiting Rome.

Benedict XVI established the Casa San Benedetto foundation in 2008 to provide accommodation for retired Vatican diplomatic personnel.

The decree said that the four foundations “are to be considered suppressed” and their “patrimony will be transferred” to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), which oversees the Vatican’s real estate holdings and other sovereign assets.

The pope also approved the statutes that will govern the Domus Vaticanae.

Pope Francis issued a second chirograph on May 5, creating an interdicasterial commission for the revision of General Regulations governing the Roman Curia in light of the new Vatican constitution Praedicate evangelium.

The decree, dated April 12, said that the commission would be chaired by Archbishop Filippo Iannone, the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. Its members will include Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, the Substitute (Sostituto) of the Vatican Secretariat of State, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, the president of APSA, and Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, the prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy.

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