On 7 June 2019, the New Law on the Government of Vatican City State will enter into effect. Pope Francis announced the new norms with a motu proprio beginning "Fin dall’inizio," released on Thursday, which is dated 25 November 2018, the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe. With the publication of the motu proprio, the Press Office of the Holy See has also released an Explanatory note (in Italian).
A reform at the service of the Church
The new legislation replaces that approved by St John Paul II with the motu proprio of 26 November 2000, which has been in force since February 2001. Explaining the reforms, Pope Francis states that, from the beginning of his ministry in the See of Peter, he felt “the need for an overall reorganization of the Governorate of Vatican City State, in order to make it ever more suited to today's needs, for the ecclesial service which it is called to render to the mission of the Roman Pontiff in the world, and for the particular institutional purpose of the State of Vatican City, designed ‘by its very nature to guarantee absolute and visible independence to the See of Peter’.”
Simplification and transparency
The Pope recalls the three principles underlying this legislative reform: rationalization, economy, and simplification; and the four criteria that characterize it: functionality, transparency, regulatory consistency, and organizational flexibility. The task of formulating the new norms was entrusted by the Holy Father to Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, and President of the Governorate of Vatican City State, assisted by a working Commission.
Reducing the number of Departments and Central Offices
In line with these objectives, the new law provides for a reduction in the number of operational bodies. The number of departments will be decreased from the current 9 to 7: Infrastructure and Services; Telecommunications and Information Systems; Economics; Security and Civil Protection Services; Health and Hygiene; Museums and Cultural Heritage; Pontifical Villas), with the Vatican Observatory as a scientific body. The Central Offices will be decreased from the current 5 to 2: the Personnel Office and the Legal Office.
Institution of a Unit of Control and Inspection
Transparency is being furthered by encouraging greater and more conscious responsibility by the managers of the operational sections through the establishment of a Unit of Control and Inspection within the Governorate. This new body will have the specific task of verifying the observance of the regulations and procedures, and of evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of the activities of the various sections.
The new legislation tends towards a moderate decentralisation, making the directors of the Departments or Offices responsible for their own actions; the results achieved with respect to the assigned objectives; the safety of the workplace; and data protection.