The subsequent councils of the cardinals studied the amendments up to the draft of June 2020 delivered to the pope. And it is at that point that the text remains firmly in the hands of Pope Francis, who "since July 2020 has personally examined the amendments, taking into account the observations, indications, and proposals received and making his own choices, as Supreme Legislator."
On Sept. 16, 2020, the final text was submitted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and to the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. Then, after their considerations, the text was published, almost suddenly, on Mar. 19, 2022.
The missionary dimension
Mellino's text particularly exalts the missionary dimension, which "must be capable of transforming every ecclesial structure." It emphasizes that this is why the department for evangelization appears first in the list of departments.
However, the secretary of the Council of Cardinals is keen to specify that "it is good to specify that all dicasteries enjoy equal juridical dignity." Therefore, their place in the list "has no juridical value."
However, it is a significant decision, at least for the first three Dicasteries –– the Dicastery for Evangelization, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Dicastery for Charity. These "not only stand side by side but play, each for their respective area, a complete role in missionary action to which the Roman Curia is called. They constitute a triad that sets the tone for the rest of the Apostolic Constitution."
The role of the laity
It is interesting to note how the role of the laity is interpreted. The new constitution, Praedicate Evangelium, suggests that the laity can be dicastery heads because power is not given by episcopal ordination but instead by canonical mission.
Indeed, the text differentiates potestas (power) and munus (office). The sacrament of Holy Orders, in fact, "grants the three munera to teach, sanctify and govern, but not the corresponding power."
Mellino's text has a broad interpretation, at the end, of the Code of Canon Law. In article 129, the code emphasizes that "those who have received sacred orders are qualified, according to the norm of the prescripts of the law, for the power of governance," while the laity "cooperate in the exercise of this same power according to the norm of law."
"Cooperating actually means working together with another," Mellino writes.
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"Therefore, cooperating in exercising the power of governance means exercising the same power that the one with whom one works has."
Mellino also specifies that the power of governance of the laity is limited "to offices that do not require either the power of order or the power of ecclesiastical governance."
However, nothing is said of how the laity maintains the fullness of potestas over the bishops who are members of the same dicasteries.
Many questions remain open unless the Curia is considered only an office, a function. But this would be the secular interpretation of the curial offices, excluded a priori by the very constitution itself.
Discussions at the Consistory
Some cardinals told CNA they did not know how the debate would develop but expected to be divided into language groups.