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Vatican studies 'decentralization' proposals

June 22, 2017

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis and members of his international Council of Cardinals discussed the possibility of allowing local bishops rather than the Vatican decide on certain matters, including the marriage or priestly ordination of permanent deacons.

It is “what the pope calls a ‘healthy decentralization,’” said Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office. Briefing journalists on the council’s June 12-14 meeting, Burke said the cardinals and pope looked specifically at the possibility of allowing bishops to determine whether a permanent deacon who is widowed can remarry or whether a permanent deacon who is unmarried or widowed can be ordained to the priesthood without having to “wait for a decision to be made in Rome” as is the current rule.

Such decisions regarding permanent deacons now are handled at the Vatican Congregation for Clergy, but could pass to the local bishops’ conference, Burke told journalists June 14. The council of cardinals advising the pope on church governance also discussed proposals to broaden the participation of laypeople and members of religious orders in the selection of new bishops.

 

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