Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran, seat of the Diocese of Rome. Photo: File

Rome: Pope Francis Puts His Own Diocese in Order

In the text of the Constitution with which the Pope Francis intervenes in his own diocese, he points out some more serious and urgent commitments that await the Church in Rome and that call for the pastoral action of the Vicariate.

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(ZENIT News / Rome, 06.01.2013).- Rome is a diocese and, as all dioceses, it has a Bishop. The particularity of this diocese is that its Bishop is the Pope. In fact, when after the death of a Pope a Conclave meets, the latter is gathered to elect the Bishop of Rome whose consequence is that he will be Pope. 

Given that the Pope cannot “shepherd” his diocese directly, he delegates that function to another Bishop who is known as the Pope’s “Vicar” (as the latter is usually a Cardinal, he is known as the “Cardinal Vicar”). The diocese of Rome being as it is, with a large number of people and a complicated functional structure, Pope Francis has seen the need to put order in it through a Constitution “on the order of the Vicariate of Rome.”

Pope Francis places this reorganizational reform “in the horizon of episcopal collegiality and of the participation of the baptized.” 

As the Pontiff recalls, the Vicariate of Rome is “the organism that carries out in Rome the function of the diocesan Curia.” It’s not the first time that a Pope intervenes in his own diocese: it happened with Paul VI and John Paul II “with the Apostolic Constitutions Vicariae Potestatis (1977) and Ecclesia in Urbe (1998).” 

The Pope says that “The Vicariate of Rome — as other structures directly related with the Petrine Ministry: the Roman Curia, the Synod of Bishops — is called to become increasingly “an appropriate source  for the evangelization of today’s world, more than for self-conservation,” at the service of a Church that sees herself before all, even before those who live in religious indifference, as “an evangelizing community [that] inserts herself with works and gestures in the daily life of others, shortens distances, lowers herself to humiliation if necessary and assumes human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in people.” 

In the text of the Constitution with which the Pope Francis intervenes in his own diocese, he points out some more serious and urgent commitments that await the Church of Rome and that call for the pastoral action of the Vicariate:

“They are: the proclamation of the Gospel and the witness of charity to all the inhabitants of the City and in all environments; the promotion of a synodal style and of synodal practices to foster listening, participation, co-responsibility and the mission of all the baptized; care of vocations to the Ordained Ministry and to the different forms of consecrated life, accompanying discernment with an evangelically humanizing formation of the candidates; the listening and support of the Ordained Ministers fostering periodic occasions of prayer and reflection in common, the renewal of the parochial presence in the different neighbourhoods of the city, so that it is at once hospitable and open to the estranged; the administration of the Sacraments, ensuring the permanent formation and dialogue with the Ordained Ministers and the catechists; the pastoral care of families and young people given the weakening of bonds and the growth of unbelief; care of the elderly, valuing their patrimony of experience and being concerned for their needs; closeness to the lonely, the sick and the imprisoned; commitment in the realm of culture and of communication, so that thought and relations are nourished by the Gospel; the pastoral care of human mobility in face of the globalization of indifference, ensuring places of worship and encounter to foreign communities so that they feel at home far from home and, at the same time, fostering progressive integration; social commitment and the witness of charity toward the old and new poverties that so many people and families of the city suffer. Special attention must be paid to the discernment of the vocation to the Permanent Diaconate and formation in view of an effective pastoral co-responsibility, which is at the service of charity. It is also necessary to ensure the permanent formation of catechists, lectors, acolytes and other ministerial figures, to give full expression to baptismal gifts; to emphasize ecumenical meetings and inter-religious dialogue; to pay attention to those with no faith but are bearers of questions that challenge our self-reference; to keep present the need of renewal of the churches and of the building of new parishes, especially in the suburbs of the cities, harmonizing beauty, sobriety and environmental and economic sustainability, and guaranteeing installations at the service of pastoral activity and of the neighbourhood. Finally, I ask that the economic management be monitored, so that it is prudent and responsible, always trusting in Divine Providence, and that it be done in coherence with its end that justifies the possession of properties on the part of the Church, sacrament of the poor Christ (cf. Philippians 2:5-8), in support of pastoral activity and of charity.”

The Constitution is divided in a part [corresponding to] guideline principles, in order to be able to address the Vicariate’s central structure, then the organs of synodality at the missionary service of the diocese of Rome, the offices, services and judicial organs and, finally, the tribunals. 

Among the most prominent novelties is the delegation of power by the Pope to the Auxiliary Bishops (different from the Vicariate). In other words, it can be said that he makes them in a certain sense “mini Bishops” of the portion of the dioceses entrusted to them. No. 16 of the Constitution states: “The Auxiliary Bishops are my Episcopal Vicars and have ordinary vicariate power in the territorial sector for which they were appointed by me.” And then it mentions: “They have the ordinary faculty, in the whole diocese, to celebrate the Sacraments and Sacramentals and to attend marriages. They also have all the faculties that will be confer on them by my decree or by decree of the Cardinal Vicar with my consent.”

Another prominent novelty is that the Pope takes to himself the admission of candidates to Holy Orders. No. 20 states: “In view of diaconal and presbyteral Ordinations for the Diocese of Rome, a Report will have to be submitted to the Episcopal Council, decided by the Bishop Delegate for the Seminaries, listening to the Rector and the Seminary’s formation team that has accompanied the formation. The Cardinal Vicar will submit to me the candidates for eventual admission to Holy Orders, obtaining the consent of the Episcopal Council.” 

On the same day of the publication of the new Constitution, the Pope issued a decree in light of the preceding dispositions entrusting to the Auxiliary Bishops of the City of Rome the pastoral sectors, areas and services as follows:

  • H.E. Monsignor Daniele Libanori, S.J., Central Sector, area of education;
  • H.E. Monsignor Daniele Salera, North Sector, area of Christian formation;
  • H.E. Monsignor Riccardo Lamba, East Sector , Hospitable and “Outgoing” Church, Service of Protection of Minors and Vulnerable People;
  • H.E. Monsignor Dario Gervasi, South Sector, area for the care of age and life;
  • H.E. Monsignor Baldassare Reina, Western Sector, area of administration of properties, juridical area, service of the General Secretariat, Seminaries;
  • H.E. Monsignor Paolo Ricciardi, area for the care of the diaconate, clergy and religious life, Ordo Virginum;
  • H.E. Monsignor Benoni Ambarus, area for the Diaconate of Charity.

In addition, he appointed Monsignor Baldassare Reina Vice-Manager, assigning him also the functions of Provost of the Lateran Apostolic Palace and the task to verify and present to me the new statutes and rules regarding: the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, Caritas, Roman Work of Preservation of the Faith, Foundations, Confraternities, Archconfraternities and Organisms linked to the Vicariate. 

Finally, the Pope extended the service, “until something else is decided,” of the Directors of Offices, of Members of the Economic Affairs Council and the of the College of Consultants.

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Jorge Enrique Mújica

Licenciado en filosofía por el Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum, de Roma, y “veterano” colaborador de medios impresos y digitales sobre argumentos religiosos y de comunicación. En la cuenta de Twitter:, habla de Dios e internet y Church and media: evangelidigitalización."

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