In the wake of a poor Church

The secretary of the Council of Cardinals Marcello Semeraro on the process towards the "thinning and simplification of the Roman Curia"

The eighth meeting of the Council of Cardinals, the so-called C9, established by Pope Francis “to help the Holy Father in the governance of the universal Church”, and to study a reform project of the Roman Curia, ended February 11. On 12 and 13 February, at the Vatican, was called the Consistory of the College of Cardinals to reflect on guidelines and proposals for the reform of the Curia. On that occasion was presented the progress made so far by the C9, with a report by Monsignor Marcello Semeraro, Secretary of the Council of Cardinals. Your Excellency, the Consistory is presenting a report on the reform of the Curia. What’s its purpose? “The Cardinals, who are the first collaborators and advisers of the Pope, fulfil their ministry both individually in their respective offices which they are assigned to, as well as collegially when they are jointly summoned together to address issues of primary importance. It is the case of the Extraordinary Consistory. It is therefore right that, after a over a year since the start of its activities, the Council refers to the College of Cardinals on the progress made and the work done so far. The Cardinals are thus submitted a short report on the activities and criteria that inspired the reflection of the nine members of the Council with the presentation of a set of results aimed at improvements thanks to the consultation’s extension.”What is the current state of this work? Could you summarize the progress of the C9 so far? “A large part of it is known through the statements of the director of the Vatican Press Office. After an initial phase, that could be described as “heuristic”, dedicated to the collection of information and opinions – the following months were largely dedicated to the notification of the Pope’s decision until the first sessions of the Council – we passed to the study phase and consequently to the formulation of proposals.” What is left to be done?”First of all, it is necessary to complete this third phase. The fact that the Council held over fifty meetings divided into in eight sessions (the last one is taking place in these days of February 2015) shall be taken into due consideration, along with the fact that the reform of the Roman Curia was not the only subject. The Council of Cardinals was established with the primary purpose of helping the Pope in his government for the entire Church, which has been done. For example, the first plenary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children ended a few days ago. Meanwhile, some results are already taking shape, such as those, announced for some time, on the possibility of uniting some pontifical councils into two larger Dicasteries.”To this regard, there is talk of two major pillars: the laity-family-life pillar, and -charity-peace-justice. It is just the sum of pre-existing realities or is there a different way of thinking, thus of acting?”It if it were just a “sum” there would be no need for a reform. Rather, it consists in a ‘re-visitation’ aimed at the streamlining and reorganization of the Roman Curia, based on the assumption that the merging of Pontifical Council will provide greater relevance, also externally, and greater impact. However, the reform of the Curia could envisage the creation of new Dicasteries, if the circumstances should require it. The first issue is to ensure efficient correspondence with the redeeming mission of the Church.”Is the Curia’s reform a mere streamlining initiative? Or is Pope Francis’ intention to communicate more than this? “I believe that with Pope Francis any thought of ‘hidden agendas’ is out of place. He always speaks clearly! I prefer reading the reform process of the Curia also with the lenses of the ‘Poor Church’ mentioned by the Pope since the beginning of his ministry at Peter’s See. I recall some of the words of his homily of April 24 2013 in thechapel of Saint Marta. I immediately took note of them, as the following week was scheduled a meeting of the Council of Cardinals. The Pope said: ‘And when the Church wants to boast of its quantity and makes organizations, and makes offices and become somewhat bureaucratic, then the Church loses its main substance and is in danger of turning into an NGO. And the Church is not an NGO. It’s a love story… some things are necessary, offices are required … ok! but they are necessary up to a certain point: as an aid to this love story. But when organization takes first place, love falls down and the Church, poor thing, becomes an NGO. And this is not the way forward.’ I firmly believe that this interpretative key should not be overlooked, in order to understand the reform of the Roman Curia.” There is also the hope that these reflections may impact local Churches as well…”This is what I hope. It can be seen that in many cases, both at national and diocesan level (and sometimes even in the parish) there is a tendency to place limitations to… the Roman Curia in terms of the organization. Bearing in mind the principle that organizations should always be – as the Pope states – of help to the love story that every Church is called to share with all men and women of its times. It would be a great antidote to ever-hovering temptations.”

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