Catholic World News

Council of Cardinals weighs plans for decentralization of Church governance

June 14, 2017

The Council of Cardinals discussed proposals for decentralizing the governance of the Church, during its three-day meeting in Rome this week.

At their meetings, held Monday through Wednesday, the cardinals spoke about the appointment of new bishops, and in particular the possibility that a wider consultation process should be used, soliciting input from lay people and religious. The Council also discussed circumstances in which decisions that are currently made by Vatican congregations could be delegated to diocesan bishops or to episcopal conferences.

Continuing their study of all offices of the Vatican, the cardinals focused on the Congregation for Evangelization. They also read drafts of documents on the workings of the Vatican tribunals and the offices for the Eastern Churches, the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, and Inter-Religious Dialogue. Each of these documents, when completed, will be submitted to Pope Francis for a final decision on the changes to be made in each office.

In briefing reporters on the Council meeting, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke referred to Vatican offices as “dicasteries,” making no distinction between those currently classified as “congregations” and those that are “pontifical councils.” That terminology—combined with the fact that two important new offices have been identified only as “dicasteries”—could be interpreted as a signal that some offices will be reclassified in a thorough restructuring of the Roman Curia.

However, no sweeping changes appear imminent. After this, its 20th meeting, the Council of Cardinals scheduled its next meeting for September 11-14.

During this week’s meetings, the Council heard progress reports from Cardinal George Pell on the budgeting process overseen by the Secretariat for the Economy; and from Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano on the consolidation of the Vatican’s public-communications efforts under the Secretariat for Communications.

Pope Francis, as usual, participated fully in the discussions of the Council, except on Wednesday, June 14, when he held his weekly public audience.

 
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