Inter-Departmental Co-operation in the Curia

Author: Pope Paul VI


Pope Paul VI

On June 11 His Holiness presided over the first meeting of the Cardinals in charge of the various Departments of the Roman Curia. Besides the Secretary of State Cardinal Cicognani, the meeting was attended by Their Eminences Cardinals: Benedetto Aloisi Masella, Giuseppe Antonio Feretto, Pietro Gregorio Agagianian, Paulo Marelia, Gustavo Testa, Luigi Traglia, Ildebrando Antoniutti, Franjo Seper, Jean Villot, Gabriele Maria Garrone, Massiminano de Furstenberg, Antonio Samore, Dino Staffa, Agostino Bea, Egidio Vugnozzi, Pericle Felici, and Benno Gut.

Opening the proceedings His Holiness made me following address In Latin.

Dear Sons,

This meeting marks the beginning of a new practice in the work of the Roman Curia. The Cardinals charged with the direction of the various Departments, and responsible under Our guidance for the central government of the Catholic Church, will meet to consider matters whose knowledge is useful to all and which call for collective discussion and joint execution. Thiswill achieve a more orderly and efficient dispatch of business concerning the duties and interestsofthe Holy See, and the good of the whole Church and of the world in which her mission is carried out.

Not altogether novel

This is notin fact something completely new. It is well known that while the whole organization of the Holy See is founded on the personal authority of the Pope, nevertheless, it is arranged and ordered in such away that he is surrounded by a circle of authoritative collaborators, such a you, dear Sons. The various Departments give the Church its own distinctive brand of government, and by their mutual co-operation they show that all have one and the same purpose. It is well known, too, that each of you heads a Congregation or other body in which the opinions of the many prevent the deliberations of the Holy See from being, in any way arbitrary. Instead the Holy See gains in wisdom from the fact that the opinions of many are weighed and balanced one against another. It is for this reason that for centuries it has been the custom of the Roman Curia of gathering the Cardinals together to discuss things and to give decisions about them. And this is to its credit.

Co-operation between Departments

The new element in this assembly is the meeting, not of members of the same Congregation, but of the heads of the different Congregations and principal Offices of the Curia.

Thus we have the various Departments gathered together inone meeting. This both reveals and strengthens their oneness of purpose. Yet while respecting the peculiar competence of each Department, this gathering is designed to foster greater co-operation between the Departments, since, in fact, the Roman Curia as a whole, has only one goal. It has the advantage of eliminating discrepancies in the practical government of the Church. Further, it would establish more logical and closer relations between the various bodies of which the Holy See is composed. As a result, the Holy See itself should be in a better position to meet the needs of the Church.

Aims of inter-departmental meetings

The common study of fundamental questions, the pooling of common experience, perhaps also the solution of problems which are, as we say, of mixed competence, commitment to closer and greater collaboration—these are the immediate and obvious ends of meetings such as this. Today's meeting begins the formal and practical application of the rules set out in the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Regimini Ecclesiae, August 15, 1967, Chapter 2, Nos. 13-18, in the last article of which it is stated: "Cardinales qui Dicasteriis praeficiuntur pro opportunitate convocari possunt a Cardinali Secretario Status ad labores omnium coordinandos, ad notitias praebendas et consilia capienda." (The Cardinal Secretary of State can convoke the Cardinals in charge of Departments when it seems advisable, to coordinate all their work, to supply information, and to take counsel with them.)

Advantages hoped for

We hope that this is the start of a happy and fruitful arrangement. In this way the Curia will acquire greater knowledge of itself and of the problems it is required to consider and resolve, inspired by a spirit which raises bureaucratic work and purely juridical dealings to a level of greater comprehension and more faithful solicitude for that spiritual and pastoral mission to which is directed every care of the Holy See and of the Pope who, however unworthy, by right of office personifies and rules that Apostolic See.

Growing need of joint meetings

We wish to express to you, dear Sons, Our gratitude and Our trust for the dedication with which you devote yourselves tothe task assigned to each one of you. And just as We are the first to sense the growing need of these meetings, so We, more than anyone else, are looking forward to their fruitful outcome.

We end Our brief introduction to your new work greeting you all as Our true and worthy collaborators, hoping that what the Lord has promised will be realized here. For where many gathered together in his name, there it is possible for Jesus to be present in a hidden way; and if the minds of those there present are rightly disposed, his presence becomesin a spiritual way true and unquestionable, as he himself has said (Matt. 18, 20).

We certainly think that this will occur at this meeting and at all future meetings; and praying that it may be so, We now give you Our Apostolic Blessing.  

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
20 June 1968, page 2

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