Pope Francis's Council of Cardinals will recommend major changes to the Roman Curia, not merely "cosmetic" ones, according to Vatican spokesman Frederico Lombardi, SJ. The cardinals won't suggest "marginal modifications" to Pastor Bonus, John Paul II's 1988 document reforming several aspects of the Curia. Instead, Lombardi explained, they're planning to write a whole new constitution "with significant new aspects."

Guiding these reforms will be an ethic of service--a theme Francis touched on in his recent interview. The idea is to refashion the Curia "in terms of subsidiarity, rather than the exercise of centralized power," Lombardi said. To that end, the Council of Cardinals will discuss the possibility of creating a moderator for the Curia who would facilitate communication between the various dicasteries--and the pope. (Paging Cardinal Kasper.)

It looks like the Secretariat of State will get a makeover too. The office “should be the secretariat of the pope; the word State should not give rise to doubt. This body serves the pope in the governance of the universal church," according to Lombardi.

The role of the laity also featured in the council's deliberations, "so that this dimension of the life of the church is properly and effectively recognised and followed by the governance of the church," Lombardi said. In the run-up to the meeting, the eight cardinals received many suggestions and questions on this subject, which, according to Lombardi, could result in the "strengthening" of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

The Council of Cardinals will meet again in December, and again in February, but, Lombardi cautioned, that doesn't mean its members won't communicate with one another--and with the pope--in the meantime.

That Santa Marta phone bill is going to be a doozy.


Grant Gallicho joined Commonweal as an intern and was an associate editor for the magazine until 2015. 

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