A new “super dicastery” on evangelization might be one of the most significant reforms of the governing structures of the Vatican, according to a new report.
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.
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.”
Having its roots in the Roman Inquisition, the doctrinal office is the oldest among the congregations of the Roman Curia, and insiders still call it the Holy Office, as it’s tasked with promulgating and defending Catholic doctrine and defending the Church from heresy.
Today, in addition to defending doctrine, it is also tasked with judging priests who’ve been accused of sexually abusing minors, with 17 officials dedicated almost exclusively to this task.
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.
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 emeritus Benedict XVI to confront the rapid secularization of Western countries.
Menor’s report is based on interviews he conducted with Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias and Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, both members of the pope’s Council of Cardinal Advisers, which was established at the beginning of Francis’s pontificate to help reform the Curia.
“Pope Francis always underlines that the Church is missionary,” Maradiaga told Vida Nueva. “For this reason, it’s logical that we put in the first place the dicastery for Evangelization and not the one for the Doctrine of the Faith.”
“This way, the pope sends a significant signal of the reform to the entire People of God,” the cardinal said.
“The main point of the new Apostolic Constitution is that the mission of the Church is evangelization,” the Indian cardinal told Vida Nueva. “It puts it at the center 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.”