Memo Outlines Procedure Regarding Use of Pope's Signature on Vatican Documents
Documents signed by the Holy Father require 'careful review' to uphold integrity of papal teaching.
VATICAN CITY (EWTN News/CNA)—The release of all documents bearing the Pope’s signature must follow certain procedures to defend the integrity of papal teaching, says a new memo from the Vatican Secretariat of State to the cardinals and archbishops who head the Roman Curia’s congregations, tribunals, pontifical councils and offices.
Archbishop Angelo Maria Becciu, the present head of the secretariat’s First Section, said in the Nov. 4 memo that the circulation of unrevised or improperly released texts could harm the integrity of papal teaching.
When a document signed by the Pope is published, the document must be sent in printed form and with an electronic backup to the Secretariat of State with a reasonable estimate of the expected publication date. After “careful review” of its contents, the secretariat will distribute it to the Holy See’s various media outlets.
Veteran Vatican reporter Sandro Magister published the memo on the Italian newspaper L’Espresso’s religious affairs website Chiesa.
He noted that the memo applies only to texts that bear the Pope’s signature. It cannot, “strictly speaking,” refer to the Oct. 24 document from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on global financial reform, which drew much attention and controversy but was not a papal document.
Citing Catholic News Service, Magister said the memo is a likely response to the treatment of Pope Benedict XVI’s message for the 98th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which was presented on Oct. 25. Large sections of the document had been released by the Vatican Information Service five days before its publication date.
However, a Nov. 4 summit at the Secretariat of State to address such incidents also discussed the Justice and Peace document. At the summit, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said he did not know about the document until the last minute and only after the media had been informed about its launch.
Vatican insiders told EWTN News that the Justice and Peace document seemed to lack the expected degree of consultation and approval with the Secretariat of State and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the two main curial departments.