Church Reform; too much, too little, too fast, too slow?

Robert Mickens in his letter from Rome, in, writes that “exasperation is also growing over the tortoise-like speed with which Papa Franceso is moving to reform the Roman Curia (and other structures in the Church)”.
Meanwhile ‘reform of the curia is unnecessary’, says Archbishop Gänswein’ as reported by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt in The Tablet.
by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s personal secretary said he believes reform of the Vatican bureaucracy, which has become a key theme of Pope Francis’ papacy, is not necessary.
Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who is also Prefect of the Papal Household, said: “I personally can see no significant reason which would necessitate a reform of the Curia at the moment. One or two changes have been made but that is part of the normal run of things. To speak of ‘Curial reform’ is, if I may so, somewhat of an exaggeration.”
Gänswein, whose view of the status quo in the Vatican are probably supported by a not inconsiderable number of the hierarchy, according to insiders, was giving an interview to the German website   ‘’.
He was asked whether the Vatican and the Church in general are polarised at the moment. “There is no polarisation as far as I can see and I haven’t experienced any. Certain measures here and there have been criticised and if the criticism is justified, that can surely benefit the general climate,” he said.
What did he expect of the forthcoming Synod on the Family in October – would it bring reforms or just a few changes? “It is to be wished that the main topic, namely ‘Evangelisation and the Family’, will occupy centre stage and that the debates do not get lost on certain side issues,” he replied. Since last October’s synod meeting there has been increasing polarisation over whether there should be reform of the Church’s view of civil remarriage and gay relationships. The archbishop said it was most important to discuss the challenges the Church was facing but to remain on the “secure basis of Catholic church teaching and tradition”.
Robert Mickens
Anticipation is growing for the release of Pope Francis’ new document on marriage and family life, which he evidently already signed March 19, the Feast of St Joseph.
Properly known as a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, the text is to be the 79-year-old pope’s most authoritative teaching to date on marital issues. It will be the latest (though probably not the final) phase of a more than three-year discernment process that has included two consultations with Catholics worldwide and frank (and sometimes heated) discussions among their pastors at two different major gatherings of the Synod of Bishops.
The new document, originally written in Italian, is being translated into others languages. It is reportedly some 200 pages long. If that’s the length in Vatican booklet form, it would amount to about 80 or so single-spaced, A4-sized pages. But if the exhortation is longer than that, as some have suggested, it’s sure to include everything on marriage except the kitchen sink (though there will probably be some flying plates and a quip or two about mothers-in-law)!
But while anticipation builds for the new document, exasperation is also growing over the tortoise-like speed with which Papa Franceso is moving to reform the Roman Curia (and other structures in the Church). The pope does not meet again with his nine cardinal advisors (C9) who are helping him map out the reforms until April 11-13. And it is hoped that the process begun over two years ago to thoroughly reorganize Catholicism’s central bureaucracy will finally show some signs of forward movement.
Up to now there has been no real reform. Many people continue to praise the pope and Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s money man, for implementing financial “reforms”, especially at its so-called bank, the Institute for Religious Works (IOR). But these have merely consisted in introducing modern accounting methods and bringing an offshore financial institution into compliance with international banking laws.
Another area where Pope Francis has been slow in replacing top Vatican officials. At least six office heads are already 75 or older. Four of these are cardinals – Francesco Coccopalmerio, 78, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts; Antonio Maria Vegliò, head of the council for migrants; Angelo Amato, 77, prefect of the Congregation for Saints; and Lorenzo Baldisseri, 75, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.
And there are several more cardinals and bishops who have been in the No. 1 or No. 2 slot at important offices for well over their five-year terms. That includes officials at five of the eight congregations and all but a couple of the remaining ten pontifical councils. Some of these men will be shuffled to other positions when the Curia reform is finally implemented, especially with the suppression and combining of dicasteries.
But there are other offices, like the congregations dealing with bishops and Eastern Churches, which are sure to survive any reforms. And their respective and powerful prefects – Cardinals Marc Ouellet and Leonardo Sandri – will soon be completing six years (for the French Canadian) and nine (for the Italo-Argentinian). It’s about time for the pope to move them along…

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One Comment

  1. Clearly, if Ganswein does not think that the Curia needs reform and he has much support at the Vatican, then, we are looking at minimal structural reform….Eventually, the Church’s teachings and the Vatican’s theological positions will have no support from teachers of religion or theologians and will put the RC Institutional Church into a huge sink-hole. I’m not suggesting that we incorporate every new theological premise, but, we must be engaging theologians past and present who work tirelessly. In Ireland, you have various people….like…Mary Malone…and while..I do not endorse her theology alone….there must be other theologians added to the mix…..and then…there must be a commitment to talk, talk, talk, and talk. I do agree with Mary Malone that one of the most pressing issues…is women in the Church and I know Father Daly has this as his primary concern as it is told in his recent book…..Unless…this new theological discussion with the Vatican and around the world…begins…I’m afraid we are, as a Church….drifting further and further into oblivion.

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