Pope Francis Wants to Rewrite the Vatican's Constitution, But He Can't Rewrite the Church


Pope Francis has revealed two big plans for the Vatican that are causing chatter to erupt surrounding changes in the Catholic Church. He announced on Monday that on April 27, two former popes will be canonized into sainthood, John Paul II and John XXIII. He has also decided to significantly alter the Roman curia and governance of the Catholic Church whose constitution, he says, is "over." 

The decisions seem conflicting: one pushes for reform within the Vatican while the other represents the Church's tradition of sainthood. Although the act itself of announcing sainthood is quite traditional, the manner in which the pope has done it is not. Vatican analysts have said that this decision is highly unusual and perhaps unparalleled.

When considered this way, the two decisions don't seem so different. Pope Francis does, after all, seem to be on a roll lately in doing unusual and unparalleled things. He has made statements on explosive issues like homosexuality, the woman's role in the Church, and about atheism. Since becoming pope, he has boldly stated that the Church is not to interfere in the spirituality of these groups of people, nor is it the Church's or anyone else's job to judge them. He has also importantly insisted that "it is not necessary to talk about these issues all of the time." 

His intentions are clear: he plans to continue to steer the Church in the direction of change. Francis has said, "this is the time for discernment" and that change in the Catholic Church, though time is needed to lay the foundations in order for it to be real and effective, will come. 

He admits that he hasn't always practiced humility, and that he has made bad decisions in the past as a result of "authoritarianism" and a "quick manner of making decisions." Yet his most current statements reflect a new pope, one whose statements are the result of calculated, sincere reflection and consideration. In an interview with Antonio Spadaro, Pope Francis discussed the new approach he has to making important decisions. He said that he has found that he is now "always wary of decisions made hastily."

Since the pope does not hurriedly make decisions of central importance to the Church, those closely following the Church's newest developments can at least sleep well knowing that his intentions are to make fundamental changes to elicit the best results. The eight bishops that will vote on the reforms to be made to Catholicism's autocratic bureaucracy have his example of thoughtful, concentrated decision-making to follow. We can look forward to the Catholic Church continuing to build a future full of changes.