Will Francis’ reform of the Curia take root?

By Michael Sean Winters, 30 March 2022
Pope Francis meets with members of the Roman Curia. Image: Vatican Media/Vatican News


“We plant the seeds that one day will grow,” the Romero Prayer intones. “We water the seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.”

With the promulgation of Praedicate Evangelium, (“Preach the Gospel”), the long-awaited apostolic constitution reforming the Roman curia, Pope Francis has planted some important seeds. If his programmatic apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, invited all Catholics to find ways to preach the Gospel with renewed fervor, this text invites the Roman curia, the central administrative body of the universal church, to do the same. It marks a major milestone in the reception of the Second Vatican Council.

Everything about the new apostolic constitution is outward-looking. Indeed, the primacy of the call to evangelize as the essential mission of the church is evident on almost every page. The church Francis envisions is a missionary church, one whose primary mission and goal is to preach the Gospel.

Now Francis is betting the time is ripe to de-clericalize the culture of the curia. I do not think we will need to wait many years until a woman is named to head a Vatican dicastery. As theologian Natalia Imperatori-Lee told NCR: “To separate out governance or administration from orders means that orders is primarily a sacramental ministry and that governance then belongs to the whole people of God, which is as it should be.”

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Michael Sean Winters covers the nexus of religion and politics for NCR.

With thanks to the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) and Micheal Sean Winters, where this article originally appeared.


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