What Is the Roman Curia?

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    VATICAN-POPE-CONCLAVE-FILESWhat is the Roman Curia? The Roman Curia, which works to support the pope, is the central cabinet or governing body of the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Curia consists of numerous departments and bodies, the most important of which, the Secretariat of State, is led by the Cardinal Secretary of State. Following Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise resignation in February 2013, the Roman Curia became a topic of conversation, as some church officials, among them Cardinal Angelo Scola, has said the next pope should work to reform the body, the Observer reports.

    The Roman Curia comprises the Secretariat of State, Congregations, Tribunals, Pontifical Councils and various other bodies. Collectively, it works to “assist the Pope in the exercise of his supreme pastoral office for the good and in service of the Church throughout the world and of the particular Churches, assisting in the maintenance of the unity of the Faith and the communion of the People of God and in the promotion of the proper mission of the Church in the world,” according to Catholic-Pages.com.

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    As the Catholic Herald reports, many of duties of the Roman Curia are “extremely tedious,” and by virtue of undertaking thankless jobs—among them answering the scores of letters sent to the pope from people around the world—Roman Curia members tend to be resistant to reform efforts, most of which focus on “internationalisation.” The Roman Curia is predominately Italian, and some members of the Catholic Church believe the body would be well served to diversify, as only a small fraction of the world’s billion-plus Catholics live in Italy.

    As per Catholic priest, doctor of moral theology and Catholic Herald contributor Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith, the overwhelmingly Italian makeup of the Roman Curia “looks increasingly anachronistic.” “For example, do the offices of the Curia have to close in the middle of the day for lunch and the siesta?” Lucie-Smith writes. “How on earth can this be justified, especially for the press office, in the age of 24 hour news? Why is it that Vatican diplomats are forced to submit all reports to the Secretariat of State in Italian, even when many are writing in from English-speaking countries, and are in fact not native Italian-speakers?”

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