The publication date of the new constitution governing the Roman Curia has been delayed again as Pope Francis' council of cardinals continues to evaluate suggestions to the draft that was given to bishops' conferences in May.
The now six-member advisory council met at the Vatican Dec. 2-4.
According to a brief Vatican press release Dec. 4, the group of cardinals had continued to receive suggestions on the text of the new apostolic constitution, provisionally titled Praedicate evangelium, until a few days before the start of the latest round of meetings.
The council of cardinals will continue its “reading and evaluation” of the draft at its next meeting, which will take place in February 2020, the Holy See press office stated.
Praedicate evangelium will replace Pastor bonus, the current apostolic constitution on the Roman Curia promulgated by Pope John Paul II on June 28, 1988, and subsequently modified by both popes Benedict and Francis.
The new document is expected to place renewed emphasis on evangelization as the structural priority of the Church’s mission, with some predicting the merger of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization into a single larger department.
In June, the secretary of the council, Bishop Marcello Semeraro, said there was a possibility Pope Francis would see a final draft of the document in September, but in September cardinals were still working on incorporating the suggestions submitted by bishops’ conferences and others during the summer.
The new constitution has been the advisory group’s key reform project since its establishment in 2013, one month after Pope Francis’ election.
According to the press release, this week’s meetings focused on two aspects of the draft text: the relationship between the Roman Curia and bishops’ conferences, and the presence of lay men and women in decision-making roles in curial and other Church offices.
The “theological-pastoral bases of these aspects” was also studied.
The Council of Cardinal Advisors is often referred to informally as the “C9,” although there have been only six members for nearly the past year.
The current members - Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Reinhard Marx, Sean O'Malley, Giuseppe Bertello, and Oswald Gracias - were all present for the latest gathering, the group’s 32nd round of meetings.
Pope Francis also attended sessions, when not in other audiences and appointments. Bishop Marcello Semeraro, the secretary of the council, was also present at the meetings this week.
Besides discussing the curial constitution, the council heard a report from Cardinal Michael Czerny on October’s Synod of Bishops on the Amazon and some considerations from Cardinal O'Malley on the work of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation.
They also heard from Cardinal Marx on the Church in Germany’s “synodal path” and the topics on which it will focus.