A PhD student at the Pontifical Lateran University recently published his thesis on Canon Law, suggesting that a change of mentality is needed if a potential reorganisation of the Curia is to bear any fruits
Gianni Valente taken from Vatican Insider
An extract from a PhD thesis on Canon Law, the functions of the Roman Curia and suggested areas of improvement, was published in an easy-to-read booklet, a few days ago. The PhD viva examination was held last year at the Pontifical Lateran University and is entitled “The Nature and Function of the Roman Curia according to the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus”. The thesis was written by Stefano Rossano and supervised by Archbishop Giuseppe Sciacca, a Canonist and current Secretary of the Vatican City Governorate. He is also a professor of Stilus Romanae Curiae at the Pontifical Lateran University. The thesis describes the historical and legal characteristics and institutional functions of the Roman Curia’s dicasteries and other bodies. It then presents some theoretical and functional guidelines the author claims should be taken into consideration if these bodies undergo restructuring in the future.
First and foremost, Rossario says, there needs to be a clear distinction between the powers held by each body. “Some dicasteries have mixed competencies: they exercise judicial power whilst retaining a certain amount of executive power. By grouping these competencies together in a more uniform manner, jurisdiction disputes could be avoided.”
Another suggested – and more operational – approach to the reform of the Roman Curia is the merging of various Curia bodies according to area of expertise, which would reduce their number. Rossario suggests systematically merging Curia bodies and organisations along the lines of the mergers made by Benedict XVI. For example, in 2006, he joined the presidency of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. He also merged the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue with the Pontifical Council for Culture. The thesis goes on to propose integrating institutional management across the whole communications sector, bringing the Vatican Press Office, Radio, Television Center and newspaper (L’Osservatore Romano) under the aegis of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
It has to be said that the recipes contained in this study are slightly dated. The author himself admits that a change of mentality is needed before any organisational overhaul within the Curia can produce any real fruits in terms of efficiency. Any changes need to take into account that the Curia’s prime aim as a tool of the Bishop of Rome, is to serve the universal and local Churches. The fact that Pope Francis has been celebrating daily masses with bishops and priests for the various “teams” of Vatican employees, seems to fulfil the wish expressed by Paul VI 50 years ago. And that is that the Roman Curia is not a bureaucratic, Canonist and ritualistic machine, as some would wrongly describe it, but a true community of faith and charity, prayer and action, made up of brothers and sons of the Pope, who work together to help him in his service to the brothers and sons of the universal Church and the whole world.