Opinion & Analysis

Letter from Rome

5:42 PM, May 27, 2019

Vatican City:Pope Francis has church reform on his mind as he calls for courage to let go and humility to listen.

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When Pope Francis is at the point of finalizing a major document, he tends to speak about its theme and give clues to its contents in the days and weeks before the text is actually released.

We initially realized this — though only in hindsight — after the pope gave his first major interview some months after his election as bishop of Rome. It consisted of a series of conversations with his Jesuit confrere, Father Antonio Spadaro, editor-in-chief of La Civiltà Cattolica. And it was a blockbuster.

Francis explained his vision for the Church and spoke about what would be the main priorities of his papal ministry. Much of what he said in those conversations with Spadaro in August 2013 — and then repeated in many of his speeches and homilies in the following weeks — ended up being published in a more systematic and official way a few months later in the apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium. This is the document that Francis continues to call the most important of his pontificate.

A similar thing happened during the preparation of the encyclical Laudato si'. In the weeks preceding the July 2015 release of this major treatise on our grave responsibility to "care for our common home" (that is, God's creation), the pope began speaking about what we would eventually read in the pages of the encyclical.

And now, more recently, the pope has been talking about organizational reform. And it makes one wonder if the things he's been saying are, perhaps, some of the things we will find in Praedicate Evangelium (Preach the Gospel), the forthcoming apostolic constitution on reforming and restructuring the Roman Curia.

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