Council of Cardinals Discusses Curia Reform, Protection of Minors

The council met Dec. 9-11 at the Vatican.

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City
St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City (photo: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA)

VATICAN CITY — Efforts to reform the Roman Curia have moved forward with the latest round of Vatican meetings and will continue next year, said Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office.

“Curia reform is an ongoing process, there are no formal decisions,” Father Lombardi told members of the media at the end of the Dec. 9-11 meeting of the cardinals at the Vatican.

He explained that, after final reform proposals are presented, “there will be the need of a team of canon law and juridical experts to write down a final draft.”

The council of cardinals was instituted by Pope Francis shortly after his election to aid him in governing the Church and to revise Pastor Bonus, the apostolic constitution governing the Curia.

As a result of the previous meetings of the council, Pope Francis has already established both a Secretariat and Council for the Economy, continued reform of the Institute for the Works of Religion, commonly known as the “Vatican Bank,” and instituted a Commission for the Protection of Minors.

In the most recent round of meetings, the nine cardinals on the council discussed drafts of Curia reforms, suggestions for the Council for the Economy to move forward with its work and the ongoing shaping of the Commission for Protection of Minors, Father Lombardi reported.

Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, secretary of the council of cardinals, presented the reform proposals at the head of Vatican dicasteries’ periodic meeting, which took place Nov. 24.

The draft proposed establishing two new congregations, which would absorb tasks and functions of several current pontifical councils: the Congregation for Justice and Peace, which would include the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, Migrants, Cor Unum, Health Care and the Pontifical Academy for Life; and the Congregation for Laity, which would include the Pontifical Councils for the Family and the Laity.

Father Lombardi stressed that “the chief of dicasteries made several observations” during the Nov. 24 meeting, and so “the Council of Cardinals spent the whole first day of [this] meeting to consider the observations,” which consisted of “a very rich series of remarks.”


Commission for the Protection of Minors

Regarding the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Father Lombardi said that the body’s president, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, reported to the cardinals on how the group’s work is proceeding.

The commission has been given an official headquarters in the Vatican, and it will now hire the personnel to carry on its work, with the efforts of its secretary, Msgr. Robert Oliver, to shape the commission and its statutes.

The body is currently composed of eight members, but membership will soon be enlarged to improve geographic representation.

“The number of members of the commission should be increased to 18 people, and it is reasonable that the composition will be completed by Feb. 6, when they will have their plenary session,” said Father Lombardi.

Joseph Zahra, deputy coordinator of the Council for the Economy, took part in one session of the council of cardinals’ meetings to report about the council’s general recommendations in carrying forward the reshaping of Vatican dicasteries and of the economic and financial bodies, Father Lombardi said.

The Vatican spokesman noted that the Council for the Economy met Dec. 2 and that “the modus operandi is that of having a gathering of the members of the Council for the Economy some days before the meeting of the council of cardinals.”

He also reported that there is a “restricted commission of three cardinals” that is working to draft the statutes of the Council for the Economy, which “should be soon ready.”

The next round of meetings for the cardinals was also announced.

On Feb. 6-8, there will be a plenary assembly of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, presided by Cardinal O’Malley, followed on Feb. 9-11 by the seventh meeting of the council of cardinals.

Then, on Feb. 12-13, the Pope will convoke an ordinary consistory to share views and opinions on the ongoing process of Curia reform. Following this, there will be an extraordinary consistory Feb. 14-15, during which the Pope is expected to create new cardinals.  

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