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Plans to rewrite the Vatican constitution

By Dominic Lynch

Pope Francis pledged to reform Vatican bureaucracy, ahead of a meeting with cardinals charged with revising the Holy See’s Apostolic Constitution, this week.

In an interview with an Italian newspaper before the three-day Council of Cardinals meeting began on Tuesday, the Holy Father said that the Vatican had become too self-interested and needed to be inclusive. He denounced Rome’s ‘Vatican-centric’ attitude and conceded that his predecessors had been infatuated with the pomp of the Vatican and its ‘courtiers.’

“The [Papal] court is the leprosy of the Papacy,” the Pope said. “It looks after the interests of the Vatican, which are still, in large part temporal interests. This Vatican-centric vision neglects the world around it and I will do everything to change it.”

Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, the leader of the eight cardinals who were hand picked by Pope Francis, vowed to rip up and rewrite the Apostolic constitution, which apportions power at the Vatican. The group had been chosen by Pope Francis in April and briefed to revise the constitution, which was drawn up in 1988 by Pope John Paul II, to give a greater voice to bishops around the world. Ahead of this week’s meeting, Cardinal Maradiaga said that the summit would go much further than just changing ‘this and that.’

“No, that constitution is over,” he said in a television interview. “Now it is something different. We need to write something different.”

The seeds for reform were sown in March when cardinals gathering in Rome prior to Pope Francis’ election complained that Vatican officials had become a self-serving elite indifferent to the needs of dioceses around the world.

Cardinal Maradiaga said his group had received suggestions on Vatican reform from throughout the world, including 80 pages of suggestions from the Church in Latin America. He noted that the convergence on a few main themes had suggested that the Will of God was at work.

It was also reported on Sunday that Pope Francis is expected to relax the control the Vatican exerts over the Italian conference of bishops. Unlike in other countries, the head of the Italian conference is not elected by bishops but picked by the Pope, a system Pope Francis is reportedly planning to scrap.

“The Pope has already told Italian bishops he wants them to deal with Italian politics, not the Vatican,” Maria Antonietta Calabro, a Vatican expert at Italian daily Corriere della Sera, said.





—This story ran in full, with additional photographs, in the October 4 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.


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