" the Vatican Must Change"

By Andrea Tornielli
Vatican Insider
March 10, 2013

"The Vatican must change"

Reforms and relations with bishops, the issues of the Congregations

Collegiality and the reform of the Curia. It had never happened before that so many Cardinals were asking for a change of direction in the management of the Vatican curial "machine"

 and were taking on the issue of the organization of dicasteries, their coordination, and their connection with the Episcopal Conferences. This means that the new Pope, whoever he may be, will hardly be able to ignore these signals, which are a consequence of the not-so-positive recent experiences in relations between Rome and the episcopacies. 

The discussion about this has been frank but brotherly. In recent days, several important cardinals have tackled the issue without beating around the bush by asking about the Vatileaks dossier and talking about the need for a change of course in the management of the Curia and of the Secretariat of State. Responses to first request were not exhaustive, because Pope Benedict ruled that the "Relatio" prepared by Cardinals Herranz, Tomko and De Giorgi will be delivered to his successor.

But the three investigators have provided some information to Cardinals looking to shed light on the issue during face-to-face talks.  With regards to the Curia, both before and after the presentation of some proposals by Cardinal Coccopalmerio, other Cardinals said they believe that there could be no futher delays to the reform that Benedict XVI said (as an aside during the Ash Wednesday ceremony) he regretted he had failed to implement.

Voices in favour of a different management of the Curia and of some reforms came from the German Walter Kasper, from the Austrian Christoph Schönborn, from the Hungarian Peter Erdö, from the Peruvian Jean Luis Cipriani Thorne, from the French André Vingt-Trois, the Spanish Antonio María Rouco Varela, the Indian Ivan Dias, and the Slovenian Franc Rodé. The need for a change of pace, for greater collegiality, for a Pope who is less isolated and less shielded by the Secretariat of State are elements which will carry some weight during the conclave.

Some Cardinals, such as Camillo Ruini and Stanislaw Dzwisz, tried to draw an identikit of the future Pope, while others, such as Angelo Scola, spoke more generally about the nature of the Church or spoke, as Angelo Bagnasco did, on the theme of truth.

Yesterday, during the eighth congregation, the Cardinals also tackled many topics: interreligious dialogue and in particular the dialogue with islam, a theme that was handled on Monday, for example, by an African cardinal who spoke about it in realistic terms, far from idyllic and "sentimental" views.  

There has been debate about the challenges of bioethics, which have become a full-fledged "social" challenge, as Benedict XVI wrote in the Encyclical "Caritas in veritate". Once again there was talk about evangelization, and about the "joyous announcement of God's love and mercy", and about a church that is close to where people live: a theme addressed yesterday morning by the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe also spoke about evengelization.

For the celebration of the 8th March, the Cardinals also addressed the issue of the role of women in the Church: a topic about which the Italo-Argentine Cardinal Leonardo Sandri had released a few statements. And yesterday there was also talk about the importance of the laity in the new evangelization, a topic touched on in particular by the Portuguese Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins. Other recurring themes were that of Justice and of the fight against poverty, and of a greater presence of the Holy See in the international arena.

The "work site" of the new evangelization, left open by Benedict XVI, remains fundamental. Therefore, to use the words of the historian Alberto Melloni, there is no need for a "sheriff" Pope nor a "manager" Pope. Instead, there is the need for a shepherd Pope who can show the smiling and merciful face of God to contemporary women and men. And who, through appropriate collaborators, can also renew the face of the Roman Curia to ensure more collegiality.

After almost a week of meetings, the proposals on the table are getting clearer and the nominations are consolidated. But, at the moment, several Cardinals still have the impression of facing a not-so-simple conclave. Thus, the repetition of the "miracle" of the election of a new Pope in only 24 hours appears difficult. 


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