A Week of Big Changes

Brad Miner | March 21, 2022

By the end of this week, the Vatican will have carried out two large acts. This past Saturday, the Feast of St. Joseph and the ninth anniversary of the pope’s election, Rome finally released the long-awaited blueprint for reform of the Curia, Predicate evangelium (“Preach the Gospel”). Next Friday, the Feast of the Annunciation, Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine, in the midst of Russia’s brutal aggression, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It will be interesting to see what consequences may follow from the one and the other move.

Some of the pope’s most unwavering acolytes have claimed that he was elected to be “the great reformer.” Given the divisions, confusions, and worse of the past nine years and the ongoing problems with the Vatican’s finances and handling of abuse cases, history may see things differently.

But his “Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia and its Service to the Church in the World” (its full title) is ambitious. It’s clearly intended to streamline various Vatican offices (partly, it may be, because of fiscal deficits) and to point them in a more outward-facing direction. It replaces St. John Paul II’s 1983 Pastor Bonus, which also attempted curial reform but, as the past four decades show, did not resolve some major administrative problems.

The Catholic Thing will be bringing you pointed commentary on the many proposed changes in coming weeks and months, as we see where they lead. But it’s important in the short run to get a few of the larger points clear to help prevent some alleged “spirit of the reform” from blotting out everything else – as happened after Vatican II.

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