Vatican City, Apr 16, 2015 / 23:02 pm
Already two years into the reform process of the Roman Curia, progress might seem slow. But cardinals on the Pope's advisory council say efforts – which may soon include new "super" congregations – are moving forward at a normal pace.
"Reform will take time," stressed Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga April 15.
Cardinal Maradiaga is part of the nine-member Council of Cardinal Advisors instituted by Pope Francis shortly after his election, to aid him in governing the Church and to reform the Roman Curia.
The Curia is currently ordered by "Pastor bonus," the apostolic constitution issued by Bl. John Paul II in 1988 which regulates and defines the charges, duties and composition of the offices of the Vatican administration. The Council of Cardinals is now working to prepare a new constitution to govern the body.
Cardinal Maradiaga noted that "Pastor bonus" took several years to implement. "We cannot suppose (a new constitution) is going to be accomplished in short time."
The drafting of a new constitution has not yet begun, nor have decisions yet been made about a drafting committee for the document.
German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, another member of the advisory council group, told CNA/EWTN News March 24 that "another year may be needed to draft the new constitution."
The next concrete step in the reform process may be establishing a special sub-commission to study how to put into effect the proposals for Curia reform up to this point.
The Council of Cardinals met most recently April 13-15. Following that meeting, Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, said that most of the gathering has been dedicated "to a reflection on methodology to be put into effect" this year and next.
In addition, the cardinals considered earlier comments on Curia reform made during the February consistory, which brought together cardinals from across the globe. More than 60 speeches on the topic of Curia reform were made during that time, Fr. Lombardi said.
One area where reform could move forward quickly is in the establishment of two super-Congregations – one for Charity, Justice and Peace, and the other for Laity, Family and Life. These two super-dicasteries would take over the functions and tasks of six current Pontifical Councils, thus streamlining the shape of the Curia.
No objections had been raised to this change, which could "take place even before a new Pastoral Constitution is drafted," Fr. Lombardi said.
The committee for communication issued an interim report, which was presented at the February consistory, Fr. Lombardi told journalists. "As the report met the expectations of the cardinals, and was not rejected, it turned into a final report."
Therefore, he said, "it is foreseeable that the Pope will establish a commission in order to concretely think about how to put into effect the Committee for Communication suggestions."
Fr. Lombardi said that Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston also put on the table the issue of bishops' accountability in cases of abuse.
Cardinal O'Malley chairs the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, a body created during the Curia reform process. He raised the accountability discussion after a meal he had last month with one of the commission's working groups that communicates with victims.
The group asked to meet Cardinal O'Malley in Rome to speak with him about some concerns that followed the appointment of Rev. Juan Barros Madrid as bishop of Osorno, Chile.
Protestors had accused Bishop Barros of having covered up sexual abuses committed by Father Fernando Karadima, a priest who had fostered his vocation and been among his close friends decades ago.
The civil case against Fr. Karadima was dismissed as being too far in the past. However, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith completed its own investigation in 2011 and declared 84-year-old Fr. Karadima guilty.
Bishop Barros, along with a number of other prelates, initially did not believe the accusations. Once the reports were confirmed in 2011, Bishop Barros said he "learned about this situation and its diverse and multiple effects with deep astonishment and pain."
Before his installation, he reiterated in a letter that he had no knowledge of the priest's abuses and neither approved of nor participated in them. "The deep pain that continues to affect the victims for long years profoundly hurts me. And I reiterate along with the whole Church that there is no place in the priesthood for those that commit those abuses," he added.
According to a source in the Commission for the Protection of Minors, they were concerned because "some reports gave the impressions that newly appointed bishop did not take in serious consideration the alleged accusations," and so they wanted to make sure that "guidelines for bishops accountability" were made clear by the commission.
All of these issues will be further discussed in the upcoming meetings of the Council of Cardinals, scheduled June 8-10, September 14-16 and December 10-12.