Reforming Roman Curia Will Be Immediate Task for Next Pontiff

by Francis X. Rocca

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Threats to religious freedom around the world, the human costs of globalization, media transformed by the revolution in information technology – these are some of the challenges that the next pope is bound to face in leading the Church.

According to one highly informed observer, the next pope will also have an urgent task at home: reforming the Roman Curia, the Church’s central administration at the Vatican.

“The curia not infrequently caused acute embarrassment to (Pope) Benedict XVI, putting obstacles in the way of his evangelical, catechetical and pastoral efforts, and ill-serving the pope’s attempts to reframe the global agenda of debate on the crucial issues facing humanity,” writes George Weigel in his new book, “Evangelical Catholicism.”

The author, a biographer of Blessed John Paul II and a well-known commentator on Catholic issues, paints a picture of an inefficient bureaucracy where incompetence often goes unpunished and all too many players serve their own ambition rather than the interests of the Church.

“Things are in fact worse now, in my view, than they have been in perhaps 40 years,” Weigel told Catholic News Service. “Everyone who does not have a vested interest in the status quo understands that a major task in the early going of the next pontificate is going to be not only to change structure but to change attitude.”

Charges of mismanagement and corruption within the Vatican bureaucracy were spectacularly documented in 2012, in the so-called “VatiLeaks” of confidential correspondence.

Some of the most serious charges appeared in letters written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, formerly the second-highest official in Vatican City State. The archbishop wrote to Pope Benedict in early 2011, warning of “corruption and abuse of power long rooted in the various departments” of the governorate and criticizing the “inexperience” of advisers whom he said had led the Vatican to lose millions of dollars in bad investments.

Pope Benedict named the archbishop nuncio to the United States in October, 2011, and he remains in that position today.