News Analysis

Overlooked: ‘Final draft’ of Vatican constitution


What happened?

The Council of Cardinals has reportedly approved the final draft of a new Vatican constitution. Praedicate Evangelium (Preach the Gospel) will replace Pastor Bonus (The Good Shepherd), promulgated by St John Paul II in 1988. The apostolic constitution outlines the structure of the Curia and its workings.

Why was it under-reported?

Catholic media have received the story cautiously. The original report came in an exclusive article by Dario Menor Torres of the Spanish weekly Vida Nueva. Other publications may be biding their time until Pope Francis makes an official announcement.

There may also be an attitude of “We’ll believe it when we see it”: the document has been five years in the making and there have often been reports that it was on the verge of appearing. Yet if Torres is right, Francis could sign the new constitution by the end of June.

What will happen next?

Its main reported change is the creation of a ‘‘super-dicastery’’ for evangelisation, combining the work currently overseen by the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation. This would reportedly be placed above the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). The symbolism of relegating the doctrinal office would be controversial.

The draft will now be sent to the other dicasteries and episcopal conferences for approval.