On March 13, 2013, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope and took the name Francis. Ten years later, the anniversary of this election was celebrated in a particularly discreet way. The Pope celebrated a private mass with the cardinals present in Rome, in the chapel of St. Martha’s House, which is his residence.
The Vaticanists have tried to take stock of the past ten years. More than an assessment, it is a series of doubts and questions that can be reduced to ten essential questions. After the premiere: “Is there a (sympathetic) media Pope and a real (authoritarian) Pope?” then the second: “Is François above all a man of his time?” Here is the third:
3. Is his government more personal than synodal?
On the Monday Vatican website of March 27, the Vaticanist Andrea Gagliarducci points to the mode of government adopted by Francis: “When necessary, he decides quickly, avoiding documents that would take longer to prepare.”
This is how he “used Rescripta ex audientia Santissimi, i.e., documents from a note following an audience with the Holy Father, to explain how the reforms should be understood.”
Thus, “it is a rescript that notes that all the assets of the dicasteries and entities of the Holy See must be managed by the Istituto per le Opere di Religione, (IOR), the so-called the Vatican bank.”
“It is a rescript – among other things never formally published externally – which establishes that there can no longer be service apartments or controlled rental prices for the heads of the Curia dicasteries. It is a rescript that gives the interpretative key to the Motu proprio Traditionis custodes, further restricting options for those who want to celebrate Mass according to the ancient rite.”
However, adds Andrea Gagliarducci, “the pope has also used indirect means to validate the interpretations over the years. For example, in responding to a letter from the Argentine bishops on applying Amoris laetitia, he established that approach, which he considered correct, to be included in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the list of official acts of the Holy See. This unusual decision gave official status to a text that would have remained only local.”
Basically, “when the Pope has to legislate, he almost always favors the apostolic letter in the form of Motu proprio (the Vatican website currently has 51) and Rescripta ex audientia Santissimi. In fact, with his choices, Pope Francis shows that he is a man alone in command. When in doubt, the final interpretation always rests with the pontiff. And only the pope can make exceptions.”
And the Italian journalist concludes logically: “The decision to use “light” documents to define legislation is part of the pope’s fight against what he believes to be a form of corruption within the Church.”
“The pope’s strategy is one of shock and awe. In this way, he avoids anyone who could stop the execution of his reform.… Indeed, it is not a collegial project, nor is it a synodal project. It is a question of a single man in command, who commands with all the tools at his disposal.”