Vatican City, Apr 26, 2019 / 12:25 pm
Pope Francis is widely expected to approve a new structure for the Roman curia in the near future. While the apostolic constitution outlining that structure is not expected to be released for several more weeks, many Church-watchers have begun speculating about what the reorganization could look like, and what it might mean.
Evangelium praedicate, as the constitution is expected to be entitled, will be the culmination of six years of work undertaken by Francis’s Council of Cardinals to better structure curial offices to the current needs of the Church.
Among its provisions, the new constitution is expected to fold the work of various smaller departments into the larger ones. This would be an extension of previous moves by Francis over the last several years, which have already seen various pontifical councils merged into the more well-known congregations, often under a new heading of simply “dicastery.”
One of the most anticipated and commented upon changes is the expected creation of a “super-dicastery” that would come through the merger of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, usually known as Propaganda Fide, with the much smaller Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, created by Pope Benedict in 2010.
In reality, this would be an acquisition, not a merger, as Propaganda Fide, charged with the Church’s missionary works and territories, has a much broader portfolio, and significantly more administrative responsibility, than the council on the new evangelization.
Still, the prediction of a more prominent role for Propaganda Fide is curiously pitched. Already one of the largest curial departments, it has a size and scope far exceeding almost any other.
Its apparently pending expansion into a so-called “super-department” comes as something of a surprise to those experts and curial staffers who consider that it has been, in fact, a “super-department” of the Vatican for several hundred years.
The beneficiary of centuries of dedicated legacies and bequests, Propaganda Fide is also the most financially autonomous curial department. During Francis’s early attempts to impose financial transparency on the curia, one staffer at the Prefecture for the Economy noted that Propaganda Fide probably had a larger asset portfolio and discretionary budget than APSA, the Vatican’s central bank.