Speaking at a conference on reform of the Roman Curia on May 17, Cardinal Pietro Parolin outlined how the Vatican Secretariat of State will change under the new constitution Praedicate evangelium.
But underlying the Vatican Secretary of State’s words was the message that the Curia’s oldest dicastery will remain central when the constitution comes into full force on June 5, the feast of Pentecost.
Cardinal Parolin was speaking at a “Praedicate evangelium study day” at Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University. Other speakers included Father Antonio Guerrero Alves, the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, and Bishop Marco Mellino, secretary of the Council of Cardinals.
Each of the speakers addressed different aspects of the reform, with Cardinal Parolin focusing on changes to the Vatican Secretariat of State since Pope Francis’ election.
The 67-year-old cardinal, who helped to draft the new constitution as a member of the Pope’s Council of Cardinals, said there had been two main changes.
First, the Secretariat of State has lost its oversight of personal administrative management. This has been transferred to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) and is controlled by the Secretariat for the Economy.
The second significant development is the creation in 2017 of the Third Section of the Secretariat of State, to manage the pope’s diplomatic representatives. The section functions alongside the two older departments: the Section for General Affairs and the Section for Relations with States. Parolin emphasized that the Third Section was formed because the pope perceived a need to “take care of what concerns the service relationship of diplomatic staff.”
The cardinal noted that Praedicate evangelium asks the Secretariat of State to converge with the other departments, bodies, and offices in a dynamic of mutual collaboration. It is up to the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s highest judicial authority, “to resolve any conflicts of competence with the other curial institutions.”
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