Saturday, July 20, 2013

CURIAL REFORM - ANOTHER LEVER - POPE FRANCIS ACTS

POPE FRANCIS
" and shall deliver to Us the results obtained. "
Pope Francis has announced the appointment of a new Pontifical Commission for Reference, composed  of lay experts with a Priest acting as Secretary Co-Ordinator " who has the powers of a delegate and acts on behalf of the Commission, collecting documents, data and the information necessary for the fulfilment of its institutional functions."

The heart of the Chirograph is quoted here:

"We have decided to establish a Commission for reference to gather accurate information on economic questions regarding the Vatican Administrations and to co-operate with the aforementioned Council of Cardinals in its valuable work, offering the technical support of specialist advice and developing strategic solutions for improvement, so as to avoid the misuse of economic resources, to improve transparency in the processes of purchasing goods and services; to refine the administration of goods and real estate; to work with ever greater prudence in the financial sphere; to ensure the correct application of accounting principles; and to guarantee healthcare and social security benefits to those eligible.

The Commission is to carry out its duties in accordance with this Chirograph and with Our provisions currently in force:

1. The Commission shall consist of a minimum of eight Members, including a President, who is its legal representative, and a Secretary Coordinator who has the powers of a delegate and acts on behalf of and for the Commission, collecting documents, data, and the information necessary for the fulfilment of its institutional functions.

2.The Members, all nominated by the Supreme Pontiff, are experts in the relevant legal, economic, financial and organisational matters.

3. The institutional functions of the Commission shall not encroach upon the sphere of competence of the government and the activities of the Administrations concerned, which shall collaborate with the Commission upon request. Professional secrecy and other possible restrictions established by law shall neither curtail nor restrict the access of the Commission to documents, data and information necessary for the fulfilment of the duties entrusted to it.

4. The Commission shall keep Us informed of its activities in the course of its work and shall deliver to Us the results obtained. It shall deliver to Us its entire paper and digital archive upon the conclusion of its mandate.

5. The Commission shall have at its disposal the appropriate resources, including interpreters and translators, and instruments for its institutional functions. It may avail itself of qualified experts and consultants to be enlisted worldwide, from outside the Holy See, or from within the Holy See provided that this does not give rise to any conflict of interest in the exercise of professions or the fulfilment of functions and roles connected with the activities of the Vatican Administrations.

6. The Commission shall collaborate, upon request, with the Working Group of eight Cardinals constituted to draft a plan of reform for the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus on the Roman Curia.

7. The Commission’s activities shall take effect as from the date of this Chirograph. The dissolution of the Commission shall be announced. "

We see from the above that the Commission is not envisioned as a permanent body but rather an ad hoc Task Group, which will co-operate with the Commission of Cardinals earlier established.Upon its dissolution, every form of records it has is to be delivered up to the Supreme Pontiff.

The seven men and one lady,all Europeans and one Singaporean, are all experts in legal, economic, financial and organisational matters.None are from South America. And most surprisingly, none are from Anglophone Countries. This is doubly surprising considering the pre-eminence many would accord those Countries in financial and organisational matters in the world of commerce and modern Government.

Whatever about that , the twofold approach of the ad hoc Commission and the Commission of Cardinals seems excellent. It will ensure that the technocrats do not "throw the baby out with the bath water". The Commission of Cardinals will be able to advise the Holy Father on whatever proposals the Commission might make and, at the same time, put forward their own thoughts based on the religious needs of the Church and their own experience of working with the Curia as it now stands.

By way of explanation a Chirograph is, in the Church context, a document given under the Pope's own hand and with a circulation limited to the Roman Curia and those who need to receive it. It has already drawn approving attention in some quarters that in the document the Holy Father has chosen to use the traditional first person plural . 

With both Commissions meeting in the coming months it looks like being an interesting time in Rome as the City heads down into Winter- perhaps a very wintry prospect for some, but at the same time promising the new Birth of Christmas for the Church. Let us all pray that the best possible results are achieved in accordance with God's Will.




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