The newly titled Dicastery for Bishops, meanwhile, is “asked that when it is necessary to negotiate with governments for the modification or provision of particular Churches, it is to proceed after having consulted the Section for Relations with States.”
Parolin said that the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life is also called to respect the Secretariat of State’s competence in approving international associations, while the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity must collaborate with the Secretariat of State, “especially in relations with the Orthodox Churches.”
Vatican departments responsible for the promotion of cultural heritage are also called to work with the Secretariat of State when they have to “collaborate with the representatives of civil society in the promotion of the dignity of the person or the resolution of conflicts, analyze together with civil organizations the adoption of measures for the reception of refugees and, more generally, participate in the delegations of the Holy See in intergovernmental meetings in matters falling within their competence.”
Parolin highlighted how “even if some of these matters are particularly relevant to the Section for Relations with States, it will be necessary for one or the other Section — and sometimes both — to intervene according to their respective specialization to guarantee, as I say, the unity of action of the Holy See in the international sphere.”
The reason for this, he said, is because “all curial institutions are an expression — according to their respective competence — of the only international entity, the Holy See, and that the international representation of this entity, and also of the Vatican City State, is entrusted to the Secretariat of State.”
The cardinal underlined that this is nothing new because the Secretariat of State is maintaining the central coordinating role it was given by Paul VI. Therefore, while recent reforms have affected its autonomy and particularities, they have also left room for renewed independence.
Information management also remains firmly in the Secretariat of State’s hands. Although the Holy See press office is now under the Dicastery of Communication, its daily bulletins are still managed by the Secretariat of State.
“The new discipline of Praedicate evangelium,” Parolin said, “establishes a situation that has been underway for some time, providing that the publication of the documents of the Holy See through the official bulletin Acta Apostolicae Sedis remains reserved to the Section for General Affairs.”
Furthermore, “this Section uses the Dicastery for Communication concerning official communications regarding both the acts of the pope and the activity of the Holy See, providing in this context precise ‘indications’ that the Dicastery will have to carry out.”
It will soon become clear whether the reform has unforeseen, far-reaching consequences or is simply a formal modification that reduces the number of Vatican departments without radically altering the Curia’s established way of doing things.