The new draft Vatican constitution is a little less wholesome than the curate’s egg.

Whilst seeming to concentrate power in the Supreme Pontiff – such that every substantive curial law and directive will have to pass over the pontifical desk – it also makes provision for ‘subsidiarity’. It require the newly constituted Dicastery for Doctrine to devolve authority to local conferences of bishops.

In the section describing the reformed Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the CDF), Praedicate Evangelium (the new Draft Constitution) refers to the “primary responsibility” of bishops and bishops’ conferences for the particular Churches and makes specific reference to the “genuine doctrinal authority” enjoyed by them. The new CDF is to work in close cooperation with local bishops’ conferences, “above all [on] the issue of authorization for teaching in the Church, where the Dicastery will apply the principle of subsidiarity.”

This blueprint for federalism is foolish and dangerous. It will put into law and practice the wildest ambitions of the German episcopate, and give further credibility to the employment of hard cases (like the unique conditions of the Amazon basin) in the formulation of bad laws.

Whist masquerading as Ultramontane, this new constitution subjects the universal Church to a quasi-Anglican ecclesiology. And we all know where that unfortunate experiment has led.

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