News / Europe

Vatican Administration Needs Total Overhaul, Cardinals Tell Pope

Pope Francis waves as he leaves after leading the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, Oct. 2, 2013.
Pope Francis waves as he leaves after leading the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, Oct. 2, 2013.
Reuters
Cardinals advising Pope Francis on how to reform the Vatican believe the Holy See's central government is so problem-ridden that only a total overhaul can fix it, the Vatican said on Thursday.

The unusually stark acknowledgement came on the third and final day of closed-door meetings between the pope and eight cardinals from around the world who are discussing the Vatican's troubled administration and mapping out possible changes in the worldwide Church.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the cardinals no longer were considering adjustments or changes to a 1998 constitution on the workings of the Vatican's various departments, known as “Pastor Bonus” [Good Shepherd].

"[The cardinals] are leaning toward a constitution with very significant new elements; in short, a new constitution," Lombardi told reporters at a briefing.

The Vatican's central administration, known as the Curia, has been accused of being dysfunctional and riven with infighting and was largely blamed for many of the mishaps and scandals that plagued the papacy of Benedict XVI, who resigned in February.

Bishops around the world have deemed it heavy-handed, autocratic, condescending and overly bureaucratic, and some say it sometimes seemed to have taken on the trappings and intrigue of a Renaissance court.

Francis said in an interview published Tuesday in an Italian newspaper that one main problem of the Curia was that it was too focused on its own interests and too inward looking. He said a court atmosphere where Vatican officials act like “courtiers” was “the leprosy of the papacy."

New style

Francis has brought a new style of openness, consultation and simplicity to the Vatican. He has shunned the spacious papal apartment and lives in small quarters in a guest house.

He announced the papal advisory board of cardinals, a revolutionary step for a Church steeped in hierarchical tradition, a mere month after his election as the first non-European pope in 1,300 years and the first from Latin America.

His decision to take advice from the cardinals - from Italy, Chile, India, Germany, Democratic Republic of Congo, the United States, Australia and Honduras - is a clear sign that he intends to take seriously calls from within the Church to decentralize a traditionally top-heavy institution.

Before resigning, Benedict left a secret report for Francis on the problems of the Curia, which were exposed when sensitive documents alleging corruption were stolen from Benedict's desk by his butler and leaked to the media.

There have been suggestions that some Vatican departments should be merged and others closed in order to make the Curia more efficient and to prevent corruption.

However, writing a new Vatican constitution to replace "Pastor Bonus," which runs to nine sections, 193 articles and two appendices, will be a major task, and Lombardi said it was unclear how long it would take.

The spokesman said the cardinals felt the role of the Curia should be to serve the 1.2 billion member Roman Catholic Church "rather than the exercise of centralized power."

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs