Even for someone with his charisma, it is a sizeable challenge.
“His quips and one liners won’t get Pope Francis far in changing the Roman Curia,” a veteran Vatican official told me. “There are certain procedures which worked well in the past. Things have gone downhill recently, but the Vatican is too big to function without procedures, and introducing new ones is not easy.”
Following the theft and publication of documents from Pope Benedict’s study, reports of financial shenanigans and a gay lobby, the cardinals at the conclave elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio in large part to clean up the mess.
“We wanted someone with good managerial and leadership skills,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York told the National Catholic Reporter’s John Allen in July. “But so far that hasn’t been as obvious.” That may become clearer soon. In October, Francis is supposed to hear from an international group of eight cardinals he appointed (Our own, H. E. Cardinal Oswald Gracias is one of them) with a mandate to advise him on nearly all aspects of church governance.
The basic form of the Roman Curia was established late in the sixteenth century to help the pope apply the Council of Trent. It has been reformed several times since, the most important being the reform of Paul VI, a Vatican insider whose top adviser, Msgr. Giovanni Benelli, was a savvy, energetic Curialist. They reshaped the Curia by creating offices for areas of concern such as ecumenism and the laity, which had acquired a new importance at Vatican II.
Francis lacks Paul VI’s Curial expertise, and there is no Benelli in sight. He could need outside help.
- Pope Francis Dumps ‘Divisive’ No 2, Cardinal Tarcissio Bertone. Appoints Diplomat Pietro Parolin as Top Aide (goldenageofgaia.com)
- Pope talks about security, Curia reform, gay lobby, VatiLeaks in 80-minute press conference aboard papal flight (catholicnews.com)
- Reforming the Church is a complex, almost an impossible task. Already, criticism of the Pope’s delays is beginning to mount: he needs our prayers (catholicherald.co.uk)
- Pope Francis: The Decree That Becomes Law Today (goldenageofgaia.com)
- Pope Francis names fellow ascetic as Vatican secretary of state (theguardian.com)
- Major appointments awaited after cardinals’ October meeting (catholicnewsagency.com)
- Pope names veteran diplomat Vatican Secretary of State (cnsblog.wordpress.com)
- How much authority for future popes and bishops? (catholicexchange.com)
- Pope Francis’ ‘risky business’ sparks internal fire (wnd.com)
- Pope Francis taps diplomat Pietro Parolin as Vatican’s new ‘prime minister’ (religionnews.com)