Church leaders and experts involved in the work on the new Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia presented ‘Praedicate Evangelium’ to journalists present at the Holy See Press Office, as well as those watching online during a two and half hour press conference on Monday, 21 March.
The text of the Document was released just two days earlier, on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, 19 March, when Pope Francis had the Apostolic Constitution promulgated.
Among the presenters at the Press Conference, Bishop Marco Mellino, Secretary of the Council of Cardinals, noted that the title itself of the Document, Praedicate Evangelium, underscores the missionary dimension and core duty of evangelization, proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel, which regards all the offices assisting the Pope in his pastoral ministry.
He also pointed out how the Roman Curia is by its nature at the service of the universal Church and under the direction of the Pope assisting him carry out his universal pastoral mission throughout the world.
He also noted how the concept of synodality enters into the equation now, as the Roman Curia becomes increasingly instrumental in listening and dialoguing with the particular Churches as it carries out its service.
Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and over these years assisting Pope Francis and the Cardinals in preparing the Document, gave an overview and historical context surrounding it.
The new Apostolic Constitution will replace the current one governing the Roman Curia, 'Pastor Bonus', promulgated back on 28 June 1988 by Pope Saint John Paul II. The new Constitution will come into force on 5 June 2022, the Solemnity of Pentecost.
Cardinal Semeraro noted how Praedicate Evangelium, many years in the making from discussions going back to the conclave of 2013, brings to completion the reform of the Roman Curia.
Many of the reforms have already been implemented in recent years, even before the new Constitution was finalized, although all the offices of the Roman Curia will need to assure their current statutes are fully in line with the final indications set in the Apostolic Constitution.
Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ, a Canon lawyer and emeritus professor of the Pontifical Gregorian University, offered his input on the document.
He noted areas of innovation, including the increasingly important role of the laity in the Roman Curia and the possibility they have to hold positions of authority and governance, while at the same time acknowledging responsibilities where Holy Orders are required.
Fr. Ghirlanda also looked at the role and authority of Bishops Conferences around the world in exercising their authority. And he spoke of how the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has been given special importance and prominence with its placement under the responsibility of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
He also described the reforms and reorganization of offices regarding the economic and financial areas of the Holy See, in order to bring them up to the latest standards and meet current needs.
In conclusion, he noted beneath all these reforms is an emphasis on “interior reform”, which means assuring the proper interior disposition of all those serving in the Roman Curia by focusing greater attention to personal, ongoing conversion, which is not just a matter for structures “semper reformanda” — continually renewed — but first regarding persons.