Francis Pellverizes™ the Roman Curia

As you know, Pope Francis set up a Secretariat for the Economy (SftE) and has appointed Card. Pell to head it up.   Since this Secretariat will control money it will, if it gets off the ground, be very powerful.  This SftE could wind up “Pellverize™” many of the Curia’s dicasteries.

Here is a curious take on what Pope Francis might be up to.

I saw this at MondayVatican:

Pope Francis observes, judges, and acts. And begins establishing a parallel Curia

Watch, judge, act. These are the three steps put into action by Pope Francis. After almost one year of pontificate, Pope Francis has decided on a way forward on how to reform the Curia. Those who were thinking of a wide reform, built on a solid legal framework, will be perhaps disappointed. Pope Francis seems to have taken the decision of changing everything without waiting any longer. And of starting the Curia reform without reforming the Pastor Bonus, i.e. the constitution that regulates the functions of the offices of the Curia. Rather, Pope Francis is going to directly establish a parallel Curia. When this parallel Curia is complete, he will probably let all the other structures wither away. [I don’t think it will work, by the way.]

This development is informed by two decisions Pope Francis has taken and is reportedly going to take. The first, that of establishing an Secretariat for the Economy. The second, that of appointing Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello as ‘Moderator Curiae’, i.e. a general coordinator of the Roman Curia. [Card. Bertello would have to be on board with a parallel Curia model.  I’ll bet he isn’t.]

The Secretariat for the Economy has been established via a “motu proprio” suddenly issued on February 24. This “motu proprio” involves a sort of aggregate of “tuning-ups” of the Holy See’s financial offices. The Secretariat for the Economy will be entrusted with the task of financial programming and issuing an annual balance sheet. Pope Francis will also appoint a general auditor, with the capacity of inspecting the accounts of any office in the Holy See and in of Vatican City State. He also established a new Council for the Economy, composed of 15 members (eight cardinals or bishops, and seven laymen). At the moment, only the prefect of the new secretariat has been appointed: it will be Cardinal George Pell, a member of the Council of Cardinals that Pope Francis appointed to developed a Curia reform plan. [As I said: Pellverize™]


(editor note: despite any rumor, today March 3, Pope Francis appointed msgr. Alfred Xuereb as prelate general secretary of the Secretary for the Economy. Xuereb was already the Pope’s delegate at the two pontifical commission. Is the Xuereb appointment another move of Pope Francis to switch from external consultants to consultants from within?).

[Get this…] The offices of the new Secretariat will be at the Torrione San Giovanni, in the Vatican walls, and the new dicastery will be staffed with 15 people. The Torrione San Giovanni was restored by John XXIII (who wanted to make it his summer residence) and was used by Secretary of State emeritus Tarcisio Bertone as his apartment while the official residence of the Secretary of State was still occupied by his predecessor, Angelo Sodano. The Torrione was also the location of the last George W. Bush visit to the Vatican as President of the United States.


It’ll take lots of bushel baskets of Euro to get that building up to speed to take offices for this.

Poverty is expensive, I guess.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. kpoterack says:

    Back at the CDF which won’t be “Pellverized,” Cardinal Mueller still holds firm on the divorced/remarried communion issue. From a National Catholic Register article published today:

    “specifically on the issue of the admission of divorced and remarried Catholics being admitted to Communion, I would refer you to the article I published in the English edition of L’Osservatore Romano Oct. 25, 2013. However, I would like to reiterate several points I make there. First, the teaching of Christ and his Church is clear: A sacramental marriage is indissoluble. Second, those persons whose state of life contradicts the indissolubility of sacramental marriage cannot be admitted to the Eucharist. Third, pastors and parish communities are bound to stand by the faithful who find themselves in this situation with “attentive love” (Familiaris Consortio, 84).
    The Church’s concern for her children who are divorced and remarried cannot be reduced to the question of receiving the Eucharist, and I am confident that, rooted in truth and in love, the Church will discover the right paths and approaches in constantly new ways.”

    Read more:

  2. McCall1981 says:

    You beat me to it! Great to read from Card. Muller.

  3. kpoterack says:

    I’m beginning to like the man more and more! He was too polite to mention a certain other German cardinal, but seems to directly respond to him when he says:

    “The idea that doctrine can be separated from the pastoral practice of the Church has become prevalent in some circles. This is not, and never has been, the Catholic faith.”

    When the Germans are bad, they’re bad – when they’re good, they’re real good!

  4. anilwang says:

    The suggestion that Pope Francis wants to throw together a new curia and just let the existing curia wither away is odd and unlikely. Even if that “new curia” existed, it would still need a constitution and that constitution must take Pastor Bonus into account. And if you’re able to come up with a new constitution, you’ve effectively created a “new curia”.

    I think that he’s reading too much into what Pope Francis is doing. Yes, he appears to be establishing a “parallel curia”, but that “parallel curia” seems to be in place to watch over the “existing curia”. Nothing more. It’s a built in “check and balance” the creates a type of tension that makes curial careerists uncomfortable since they no longer have free reign to do whatever they want as long as they can make sure the Pope isn’t paying attention.

    IMO, even if everyone in the curia were 100% honest this sort of tension is good and provides balance that will help the curia. Anyone who’s familiar with technology booms and busts knows that unless visionaries (who what life to be exciting and risky) are balanced by administrators (who want life to be boring and safe), companies inevitably go bankrupt

    I’d hazard to say that if the tension caused by this “parallel curia” is successful, Pastor Bonus might never change.

  5. greenlight says:

    Can someone please put this issue into kindergarten terms for me? Are there clergy within the Church hierarchy that have… what? Stolen? Embezzled? What else? To what end? Why couldn’t Benedict do whatever it is that Francis is doing? What was stopping him?

    I keep hearing about the need for the reform of the curia and it sounds like everyone knows what everyone else is talking about except me.

  6. Bosco says:

    “Pope Francis observes, judges, and acts. And begins establishing a parallel Curia.”

    Well why not? We already have a parallel papacy of sorts.

  7. jhayes says:

    Cardinal McCarrick on Cardinal Kasper’s speech to the Cardinals

    “Although McCarrick would not say whether there was a highlight in the cardinals’ discussions, he gave particular support to Kasper’s presentation, saying the German was a “genius.”

    “I said to him the other day, ‘I have to put your name in to be a doctor of the church,'” McCarrick said. “He’s really brilliant. It was a very, very great presentation. It was very interesting.”

  8. Supertradmum says:

    Father Z., Two questions. I am assuming that the Code of Canon Law of 1983 controls the organization of the Curia, as enthroned in law. Ergo, how can a parallel one be set up while the other is protected by Canon Law? Secondly, will this new curial organization effect the Tribunals directly, which would concern me?

  9. jhayes says:

    Link for above HERE

  10. anna 6 says:

    Anilwang might be on to something because otherwise I can’t see why Pope Francis would assign his secretary who presumably has no financial experience, as general secretary under Cardinal Pell.
    But then again, does Pell have any such background in economics either?

  11. defreitas says:

    Didn’t I hear that Cardinal Pell has a bone to pick with the Curia because of his failed appointment to head the Congregation of Bishops? No hard feelings I hope. Interesting that they want to establish the economy offices at the John XXIII tower. Nice place, far removed from the hustle and bustle of Vatican machinery. There they will be hermetically sealed, if you will, from possible infection. Well good luck to them. But no matter what they create anew, in the long run it too becomes the curia.

  12. bposullivan says:

    Doesn’t it make sense to try some reforms out before establishing them firmly in a constitution? Even if the Secretariat for the Economy and the Moderator Curiae (if there will be one) aren’t officially called “ad experimentam,” they could, if they don’t work out, be swept aside when a new constitution for the curia is adopted (or when the old one, Pastor Bonus, is revised).

    Calling the Secretariat for the Economy and a Moderator (if one is established) signs of a “parallel curia” seems like sensationalism (or what passes for sensationalism in the world of curial reform). They’re not parallel to the curia; they’re designed to be part of the curia’s internal regulation. If, as the article claims, eight or more secretariats will be established, [b]that[/b] could be a parallel curia; but it’s hard to see what the point of creating all that redundancy would be. I think reform is meant more to simplify than to complicate, so I doubt we’ll get that many new offices (though some dicasteries might be renamed and reorganized as secretariats, if their functions are seen as more administrative than consultative..)

  13. jhayes says:

    Pope Francis on Cardinal Kasper’s speech to the Cardinals (in an interview with Corriere)

    «Il cardinale Kasper ha fatto una bellissima e profonda presentazione, che sarà presto pubblicata in tedesco, e ha affrontato cinque punti, il quinto era quello dei secondi matrimoni. Mi sarei preoccupato se nel Concistoro non vi fosse stata una discussione intensa, non sarebbe servito a nulla. I cardinali sapevano che potevano dire quello che volevano, e hanno presentato molti punti di vista distinti, che arricchiscono. I confronti fraterni e aperti fanno crescere il pensiero teologico e pastorale. Di questo non ho timore, anzi lo cerco»


    Which I would read as:

    Cardinal Kasper made a profound and beautiful presentation, which will soon be published in German; he took up five issues, of which the fifth was that of second marriages. I’d be worried if there hadn’t been an in-depth discussion of that at the Consistory – that wouldn’t have helped anything. The Cardinals knew they could say whatever they wanted, and they presented many different points of view that enrich the discussion. Open brotherly disputes help in the development of theological and pastoral thinking. I’m not afraid of that – it’s what I’m looking for.

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