09 Evangelization and Decentralisation: Keywords in the new Vatican Constitution

posted Apr 30, 2019, 6:22 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 30, 2019, 6:22 AM ]
It took 29 meetings, but the Pope's "C-9" (Council of Cardinal advisers), which is now functionally more akin to a "C-6", has a new Constitution for the Vatican, in the form of a draft presented to all the bishops' conferences around the world, the heads of the various departments of the Holy See, theologians and canonists. Spanish journalist Dario Menor Torres, writing for the weekly Vida Nueva, reveals several elements of the new Vatican Constitution that has been in development for years, but the two core messages emerging from the new document are: decentralisation and evangelization.

The biggest novelty in the document, called Praedicate Evangelium ["Preach the Gospel"], will be the creation of the "super dicastery" for evangelization, which will potentially be more important than the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), often called "The Supreme Congregation". The new "super dicastery" for evangelization will result from the merging of two already existing bodies: The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, also known as Propaganda Fidei, that is tasked with overseeing "missionary territories;" and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, that was created in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI to confront the rapid secularization of Western countries.

Another of the novelties in the new Constitution is that the Curia will no longer be divided into "congregations" and the less prestigious "pontifical councils"; instead, all autonomous Vatican departments will be called "dicasteries," which has already been applied to several new bodies established by Pope Francis.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, who is on the C-9, said, "The main point of the new Apostolic Constitution is that the mission of the Church is evangelization. It puts it at the centre of the Church, and everything the Curia does. It will be the first dicastery. The name of the text shows that evangelization is the principal objective, ahead of anything else." Cardinal Gracias also highlighted that another aim of the drafters of the new Constitution was fighting "centralization". The issue was discussed by the cardinals who elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio to succeed Benedict XVI, "so Francis was elected on a mandate to do this," Gracias said.

According to the report from Vida Nueva, Pope Francis could sign the new Constitution on June 29, the Solemnity of Peter and Paul. The draft of Praedicate Evangelium was sent to the world's bishops' conferences, heads of the Vatican's dicasteries and other Church officials to review the document, and send suggestions by the end of May. The plan is to compile all the suggestions, make the necessary modifications, and for the Council of Cardinal Advisers to review it again during their June 25-27 meeting.