Simplification, decentralization the keywords in ongoing curial reform

View of St Peters Cupola from inside the Vatican on October 27 2014 Credit Bohumil Petrik CNA 7 29 15 A view of St. Peter's Basilica from within the Vatican. | Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

This week Pope Francis' council of nine cardinals completed their 15th round of meetings on curial reform, tossing around suggestions on how to better harmonize and simplify the various Vatican departments.

Some "required criteria" formed the framework of the cardinals' discussions, according to a June 8 communique from Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ.

These criteria, he said, included "simplification, the harmonization of the various tasks of different bodies and possible forms of decentralization in relation to the episcopal conferences."

What has been termed as Pope Francis' "Council of Cardinals" gathered in the Vatican June 6-8 to discuss the ongoing reform of the Roman Curia.

All nine members were present for the meetings, and Pope Francis himself participated in most sessions, apart from Wednesday morning, which he spent with pilgrims during his General Audience.

According to Fr. Lombardi, the majority of discussion focused on proposals surrounding different Vatican departments which had already been brought up in previous sessions.

The different departments – called "dicasteries" in Vatican jargon – touched on were the Congregations for Bishops, for Catholic Education, for Oriental Churches, for Clergy, the Secretariat of State, and the Pontifical Councils for Culture, for the Promotion of Christian Unity, and for Interreligious Dialogue.

Members of the council handed the Pope some of their ideas for different congregations based on discussion in previous meetings for his "further investigation and consultation."

The ideas and suggestions given by the cardinals focused specifically on the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith, for Divine Worship, the Causes of Saints, and Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Ideas surrounding the previous proposal for a new mega-dicastery titled "Charity, Justice and Peace" were also given to the Pope. The new department would merge the current Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, Cor Unum, Healthcare Workers, and Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

In terms of individual contributions to the discussion, several members of the council provided an update on their work and reform process.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Coordinator of the Council for the Economy, and Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, both spoke on themes related to their own responsibilities and the ongoing process of the Vatican's economic reform.

Msgr. Dario E. Vigano, Prefect of the new Secretariat for Communications, offered his thoughts on the reform process of communications system of the Holy See as well as the reorganization of communications work, both in production and in processes.

He also spoke on the integration of the Vatican's various communications entities, particularly Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Center, which will be taking place this year.

The council expressed their gratitude to Msgr. Vigano for the work already accomplished in his area, and encouraged him to continue along the same path.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston gave an update on work and activity of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which he heads, and led an "exchange of thoughts" on Pope Francis' motu proprio As a loving mother, published June 4, which stipulates that neglect on the part of a bishop in abuse cases is sufficient grounds to remove him from office.

The next round meetings for the council will take place Sept. 12-14, and a final session for 2016 is scheduled to take place Dec. 12-14.

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