Soon two new major authorities

Soon two new major authorities

Curia reform seen as litmus test for Pope Francis' course. Many hoped it would bring more transparency and better coordination at the top of the church. Now it is taking shape step by step.

At his 12. The Cardinal's Council (K9 Council), which is responsible for this area, has now completed its planning for a large authority for "Laity, Family and Life" at the 9th round of conferences. The Pope must now make a final decision, formally establish the new dicastery – and make difficult personnel decisions. Because the merger of the Council for the Laity and the Family Council, along with the affiliation of the Academy for Life, is expected not only to bring synergies but also to streamline the Vatican apparatus. And that means staff cuts, especially at the top.

So far, it is still unclear what rank the new authority will have. If it were to become a congregation and thus rise to the status of a "major ministry," only clerics would be allowed to belong to the management level and the members, according to the current norms. But perhaps a new legal form will emerge here.

Planned social agency still under discussion

While the creation of the Lay Family Life Authority is only a matter of time, another major structure may be some time coming. The K9 Council also discussed the planned social agency, for which Vatican spokesman Lombardi now used the name "Justice, Peace and Migration". It is to include the previous councils for justice and peace, "Cor unum," the council for migrants and the one for pastoral care of the sick. This makes the personnel question here even more pressing. However, in view of the planned merger, a number of management positions have recently become vacant and have not been filled again.

Otherwise, there is still no end in sight to the consultations on the curia reform. And the announcement of the next meeting dates indicates that the reform work will still not be finished in 2016. The K9 Council is working its way forward one step at a time, although a systematic approach is not always apparent. In addition, new tasks are constantly being added.

Transparency in financial matters

The principle of synodality seems particularly important to the pope, as well as the need for "healthy decentralization". He spoke about it recently to the 50. He marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Synod of Bishops – and called for a deepening of reflection. The K9 Council, which includes Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx, has put it on the agenda of its next meeting – especially since it is of paramount importance for reforming church headquarters.

Otherwise, economic and financial ies are among the regular topics of the Council of Cardinals and the Curia reform. A year and a half ago, Francis established an economic secretariat headed by Australian Cardinal George Pell and an economic council that is subordinate to him and coordinated by Marx. Their task is to bring transparency and systematics to the economic concerns of the various independently operating authorities of the Holy See as well as the Vatican State.

Task force bundles several institutions

Marx reported at the conference on the involvement of the external auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which is to accompany the ongoing economic and financial reforms in the Vatican. Pell informed about the creation of a task force at his Secretariat for the Economy, in which the most economically important institutions of the Vatican are represented: Secretariat of State, Governatorate of the Vatican State, the Congregation for the Missions, which owns much real estate in Rome, the papal goods administration APSA, the new Media Secretariat, which includes such high-cost sectors as Vatican Radio and the newspaper "Osservatore Romano," and the Vatican Bank IOR.

Among the authorities with which the K9 Council has so far been less involved are those for ecumenism and interreligious dialogue. Both are likely to remain in existence and retain their independence. The fact that the Eastern Church Congregation was the theme of this year's conference attracted a lot of attention. And that "their role also in the area of ecumenical relations" came up, as Lombardi emphasized. For some ecumenical partners, the Eastern Catholic Churches are more of a stumbling block than a link. But maybe K9 is building a bridge here.

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