Pope Francis' recent interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa Dec. 15 addressed some of the more political issues in the Church, including reform of the curia and changes to the Vatican banking system.
When questioned about the council of eight cardinals Pope Francis
appointed one month after his election to help and advise him in
sketching out curia reform, the pontiff explained, “I am always present
at the meetings, except for Wednesday mornings when I have the General
“But I don't speak, I just listen and that does me good.”
According to the Pope, the council of cardinals which met for a second
round of meetings Dec. 3-5 after the first round that took place Oct.
1-3, has “a lot of work to do.”
“Those who wanted to make proposals or send ideas have done so. At the
last meeting, the eight cardinals told me the time has come for concrete
proposals and at the next meeting in February they will present their
suggestions to me.”
The third round of meetings will be held Feb. 17-19, and will precede a
wider meeting of cardinals in occasion of the consistory for the
creation of new cardinals.
During the meetings, the cardinals clarified that they are not making
“adjustments” to the Pastor Bonus, the constitution that regulates
functions and duties of the Roman offices, but they are thinking about
writing a brand new constitution.
In his interview, Pope Francis shared an anecdote that illustrated his approach to curial reform:
“A few months ago, an elderly cardinal said to me: 'You have already
started curia reform with your daily masses in St. Martha’s House.' This
made me think: reform always begins with spiritual and pastoral
initiatives before structural changes.”
In a previous interview granted to “La Civiltà Cattolica,” Pope Francis
underscored that “Ignatius is a mystic, not an ascetic. It irritates me
when I hear that the Spiritual Exercises are 'Ignatian' only because
they are done in silence. In fact, the Exercises can be perfectly
Ignatian also in daily life and without the silence.”
This perhaps illustrates why Pope Francis is so fond of 16th century
Jesuit priest Blessed Peter Faber’s thought – so much that he wanted him
to be proclaimed a saint for “certain science,” that is, without the
need of a miracle.
For Bl. Peter Faber, interior experience, dogmatic expression and
structural reform are intimately inseparable. Thus, when questioned
about the pastoral situation of Catholics who are divorced but living in
a second union, the Pope also explained that “synodality of the Church
is important,” and this is why “we will discuss marriage as a whole at
the consistory meetings in February.
“The issues will also be addressed at the Extraordinary Synod in October
2014 and again at the Ordinary Synod the following year. Many elements
will be examined in more detail and clarified during these sessions,” he
Pope Francis and the IOR
In addition to curial reform, Pope Francis was questioned about the
Institute for Religious Works – the so-called Vatican bank, known by the
Italian acronym of IOR.
The IOR reform is not part of the Curia reform, but deals with the wider
reform of Vatican finances, and this is also a reason why Pope Francis
appointed a commission for reference on the IOR and a commission for
reference for the rationalization of the Vatican administrations.
More recently, Pope Francis appointed Msgr. Alfred Xuereb, his personal
secretary, has his deputy for the commission of reference. According to
the Pope, “the commissions for reference are making good progress.”
Pope Francis also refers to the progress report issued by the Council of
Europe’s committee MONEYVAL, and he said that “we are on the right
path.” The report dealt with the overall Holy See financial system, of
which the IOR is just one part.
The pontiff stressed that the Vatican “central bank” is “meant to be the
Administration for the Patrimony of the Holy See,” while the “IOR was
established to help with works of religion, mission and the poor ones.
Then it became what it is now.”
The IOR purpose, according to its statutes amended by Pope John Paul II
in 1990, is “to provide for the custody and administration of goods
transferred or entrusted to the Institute by physical or juridical
persons, designated for religious works or charity. The Institute can
accept deposits of assets from entities or persons of the Holy See and
of the Vatican City State.”
Church and politics
Pope Francis also addressed the wider question of the relationship
between Church and politics, which, according to him, needs to be
“parallel and convergent at the same time.”
“Parallel because each of us has his or her own path to take and his or her different tasks. Convergent only in helping others.”
The pontiff said that “when relationships converge first, without the
people, or without taking the people into account, that is when the bond
with political power is formed, leading the Church to rot: business,
compromises…The relationship needs to proceed in a parallel way, each
with its own method, tasks and vocation, converging only in the common
Pope Francis then reiterated that “politics is noble,” as he said
several times in the morning mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, but “we
sully it when we mix it with business. The relationship between the
Church and political power can also be corrupted if common good is not
the only converging point.”