Francis promulgated a new Basic Law, which replaces the 2000 law, to “respond to the needs of our time” and the task of giving effect to the international commitments that the Holy See has undertaken to the state as well. The Pontifical Commission has been enlarged and will now consist not only of Cardinals: lay men and women will also be able to participate. Tighter regulation of the preventive and advisory budget.
Salvatore Cernosio – Vatican News
In order to “respond to the needs of our time” and to “enact” the positions arising from the international commitments undertaken by the Holy See “with the renewed demands made by this specific aspect,” the pope promulgated on Saturday, May. 13, Commemoration of Our Lady of Fatima, New Basic Law of the Vatican State. Thus Francis renews the “constitution” of the Vatican State, replacing the November 26, 2000 Constitution of Saint John Paul II, which in turn was the successor to the Constitution promulgated by Pius XI on June 7, 1929.
So, a new reform that fits within the framework of the many reforms carried out during these ten years of papacy. In fact, the law is prepared and drafted to give the “foundational physiognomy” of the state, its powers, and the exercise of functions, and “assumes and complements” already promulgated normative updates and institutional features that have been enacted in the state with the reform of the Sources of Law Act, the State Government Act, and the Judicial Authority Act. Pope himself explains this when he presents the 24 Articles:
“Inviting them to exercise sovereign powers, by virtue of Petrine Monos, over the Vatican State, established by the Lateran Treaty as an instrument to guarantee the absolute and visible independence of the Holy See and to guarantee its sovereignty also in the international sphere, I considered it necessary to promulgate a new fundamental law to respond to the needs of our time.”
The intent is to ensure the “necessary autonomy” required by state functions in relation to the actions and activities of the state.
As in the “Constitution” of 2000, the pope affirmed “the full authority of the government of the Supreme Pontiff” which includes legislative, executive and judicial power. Extraterritorial areas, or rather “the exercise of any dependent power over the territory, as defined by the Lateran Treaty, and in the premises and areas in which the institutions of State or the Holy See operate and where personal and functional guarantees and immunities are valid in accordance with international law.”
The Pope also affirms the legislative function of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State, which hitherto consisted of a Cardinal Presiding Officer (who is also the Head of State) and other Cardinals. With the new Statute – and this is one of the novelties – this will no longer be the case: in addition to the cardinals, the commission will also include “other members” appointed by the pope for five-year terms. Therefore, secular men and women will also be able to participate.
Except where the pope intends to appropriate them for himself, the Pontifical Commission ratifies other normative canons and provisions. The document says the president “may issue decrees, ordinances and other provisions to implement legislative or regulatory rules.” and in cases of urgent necessity, “it can issue decrees having the force of law, which, however, lose their efficacy if they are not converted into law by the pontifical commission within 90 days of their publication.”
For the preparation of relevant projects, the Pontifical Commission relies on the cooperation of the prefectural judicial office, specialists and state advisors. With regard to the latter, the new composition introduced by law is the establishment of a private college for members of the Council of State. Previously, the chancellors—always appointed by the pope for a term of five years—were consulted individually; There is now a college that performs (in addition to the members) executive and advisory functions.
Another important novelty concerns the stricter and more detailed regulation of the preventive and advisory budget circulated annually by the Pontifical Commission, “according to the rules of accounting” and “with measures having the force of law”. The committee discusses the financial plan for three years, and offers “these works directly for the approval of the Supreme Pontiff.” The budget must ensure a “balance” between revenue and expenditure and be inspired by “the principles of clarity, transparency and fairness”. “In case of need,” the text says, “the president may, by decree, order the transfer of resources between chapters of the budget, maintaining balance sheets in balance and taking into account sustainability over time.” Further, “the budget is subject to control and scrutiny by a body of three members, who are appointed for a period of three years by the Pontifical Commission, to which it belongs.”
As for the governorate, the new law emphasized that “with its own organizational structure, it contributes to the special mission of the state and is in the service of Peter’s successor, to whom it is directly responsible.” The representation of the Vatican State in relations with states and with other subjects of international law, in diplomatic relations and for the conclusion of treaties, is limited to the Pope, who exercises it through the Secretariat of State, but in some cases the representation is exercised by the President of the Province, who participates in the international institutions of which the Holy See is A member of it “in the name and on behalf of the State,” “establishes relations and signals with foreign bodies and entities,” necessary to ensure supplies, connections, credits, and public services. The governorate also continues to provide security, public order, civil protection, health protection, public health and hygiene, the environment, economic activities, postal services, network infrastructure, construction activities and technical facilities. It is also responsible for the preservation, promotion and enjoyment of the artistic complex of the Vatican Museums, as well as the supervision of all artistic, historical, archaeological and ethnographic heritage.
The reform of the “Constitution” of the Vatican State translates the Council carried out and requested by Pope Francis who appreciates the starring role of “cristifiles laici” in building a Church guided by transparency and service for the benefit of the poorest!
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