Previously, only cardinals and archbishops – i.e. men – were allowed to hold the highest offices in the curia. A 50-page document changes that.

Today the new Curia constitution comes into force in the Vatican, with which Pope Francis is reorganizing the authorities of the Catholic Church.

Observers saw the 85-year-old head of the Catholic Church’s reform with the Latin title “Praedicate Gospel” (Preach the Gospel) as a clear will to reform. Among other things, with the new constitution lay people and thus also women can lead dicasteries – something like ministries in the Vatican and thus the highest curia offices. This was previously only reserved for cardinals and archbishops and thus exclusively for men.

Also, Francis placed the Curia more at the service of bishops around the world. In the approximately 50-page document with 250 paragraphs, he spoke of “healthy decentralization” and leaving competence to the “shepherds”.

The document appeared unannounced on March 19 of this year. But it had been expected for a long time. A council had been working on the elaboration for years. The new constitution replaced Pope John Paul II’s 1988 “Pastor Bonus” (the good shepherd) order that had been in force until then.

Francis also reorganized the councils, congregations and dicasteries and unified their names. They all now run under the Dicastery category. First and foremost is the Dicastery for Evangelization, headed by the Pope himself, which is also a sign from Francis to give more weight to the spread of the faith. The pontifex also upgraded the alms office, which takes care of the needs of the needy, to a dicastery.