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“When you want to mark a break, always quote a previous pope”

It’s a little phrase slipped in by a longtime observer of the Roman Curia. One of those observers who speaks only on the strict condition of never being quoted by name, around the table of a Roman restaurant, in the corridors of a dicastery or at random in via della Conciliazione, a sort of main street of the village that is the Vatican where every day, among tourists, those who work in the dicasteries, be they cardinals, minutants and officials, cross paths.

On that day, we talk about the new Constitution, published on March 19. Does it mark, or not, a break with the current rules? “There is a fairly simple rule to know if there is a break in a speech or a document, in the Vaticananswers our interlocutor of the day. When you want to mark a break, always quote a previous pope. » And in this case, the multiple explanations consisting in saying, in the Vatican, that the new Constitution fixing the rules of operation of the Roman Curia are only an implementation of the intuitions of Paul VI, constitute in this respect a good indication …

Rupture and continuity are two essential notions in the Vatican – and more broadly, moreover, in the history of the Church – by the yardstick of which the acts and gestures of the pope are constantly scrutinized. And the Holy See rarely admits that the pope is behind a major rift. A way of protecting the thousand-year-old institution that is the Catholic Church from upheavals, but also of protecting itself from criticism.