Pope could see final draft of new curial constitution by September

Vatican City, Jun 27, 2019 / 10:22 am (CNA).- Pope Francis could receive a final draft of a new constitution for the Roman curia as soon as September, according to the secretary of the pope’s Council of Cardinal Advisors. 

Bishop Marcello Semeraro said Thursday that the group was in the final stages of drafting the new constitution, titled Praedicate Evangelium, or “Proclaim the Gospel,” marking the near completion of a key reform project which began with the establishment of the Council of Cardinals in 2013, one month after Francis was elected. Since that time, the group has worked to advise the pope on Church governance and reform, with the drafting of a new constitution a key priority.

The draft text is expected to place renewed emphasis on evangelization as the structural priority of the Church’s mission, with some predicting the merger of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization into a single larger department.

“We must realize that we are no longer in a world that has a structure of Christianity in which it is enough to pay attention to doctrine. Particular attention must be paid to proclamation. An announcement that brings joy,” Council of Cardinals Secretary Bishop Marcello Semeraro said at a Vatican press conference June 27.

Semeraro said the text of the constitution must take into consideration “a changing world,” and that the reforming efforts drew inspiration from Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world.

Praedicate Evangelium will replace Pastor Bonus, the current apostolic constitution promulgated by Pope John Paul II on June 28, 1988, and subsequently modified by both popes Benedict and Francis.

Pope Francis and his Council of Cardinals met June 25-27 to discuss the comments and suggestions received on the draft text after it was sent to the presidents of national bishops’ conferences, dicasteries of the Roman Curia, Synods of the Eastern churches, conferences of major superiors, and a few pontifical universities. 

Bishop Semeraro called it “an intense process of listening.”

The six members of the council, Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga, Reinhard Marx, Sean Patrick O’Malley, Giuseppe Bertello, and Oswald Gracias, all participated in the meetings with Pope Francis.

The Council of Cardinals is often referred to informally as the “C9,” although there are now only six memebrs. In December, three of the original members of the council, Cardinals George Pell, Francisco Javier Errazuriz, and Laurent Monsengwo were removed from the council, ostensibly for reasons of age. 

The next meeting of the Council of Cardinals will take place September 17-19.

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