Pope shifting roles of Vatican offices

In the lead up to an expected major overhaul of the Roman Curia, minor changes have begun to take place, including the shift of some functions from the Congregation for the Clergy to the Congregation for Divine Worship, effective from Monday.

Catholic World News reports that the Congregation for the Clergy will assume responsibilities for cases in which priests or deacons seek a dispensation from the clerical state.

It says that under certain circumstances, a cleric can be released from the vow of celibacy, thus making him free to marry. Handling these cases will bring a substantial increase in the workload of the Congregation for the Clergy.

Until now, these cases have been handled by the Congregation for Divine Worship. The dicastery has the authority to rule whether or not, in a particular case, the reasons presented by a petitioner are sufficient to justify dispensation from the vows of ordination.

Pope Benedict, who has spoken in the past about the need for greater efficiency in the Roman Curia, has made several modest changes in the operation of Vatican offices. He has given the Congregation for Bishops the oversight for appointment of bishops in Eastern Europe. That function had been held by the Secretariat of State since the time of Pope Pius XII, who saw the need for careful diplomatic scrutiny of episcopal appointments in the Soviet bloc during the years of the Communist regime.

Catholic World News believes several proposals for reorganisation of the Roman Curia are already under discussion. It says the most persistent reports suggest that several pontifical councils might be combined into one office, and perhaps raised to the status of a congregation.

Shifting roles for Vatican offices (Catholic World News 27/7/05)

28 Jul 2005