VATICAN (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis has issued a new motu proprio, splitting the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog into subdepartments that will dialogue with problematic theological positions and promote an understanding of the Faith in the light of scientific progress.
The decree Fidem Servare ("To Preserve the Faith"), published Monday, bifurcates the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith into distinct "doctrinal" and "disciplinary" divisions, each headed by a secretary who will report to the prefect of the dicastery.
Citing St. Paul's exhortation to Timothy that "I have kept the Faith," Francis insists his decree is meant to give the CDF "an approach more suited to the fulfillment of its functions."
"With the new structure, each section, with its own secretary, will have greater authority and autonomy," Vatican News explained.
Pursuant to Fidem Servare, the doctrinal section will deal with "matters pertaining to the promotion and protection of the doctrine of the Faith and of morals" by examining documents from other Vatican dicasteries.
The motu proprio also directs the CDF to engage with "writings and opinions which appear problematic for right faith, encouraging dialogue with their authors and proposing suitable remedies to be made, according to the norms of Agendi Ratio in Doctrinarum Examine."
The document additionally orders the CDF to promote studies to foster evangelization "so that its light may be a criterion for understanding the meaning of life, especially in the face of the questions posed by the progress of the sciences and the development of society."
Anglican personal ordinariates instituted by the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus and the Matrimonial Office will now be overseen by the CDF's doctrinal section.
The disciplinary division of the congregation will manage concerns related to the sexual abuse of minors and other grave crimes ("delicta graviora") to "promote a correct administration of justice."
Speaking to Church Militant on condition of anonymity, a Vatican canonist expressed alarm that "the CDF had, for all intents and purposes, abandoned prosecution of suspects for the canonical crime it was created centuries ago to repress — heresy."
"It is no surprise, therefore, that the disciplinary section now has its own secretary," the canonist remarked.
"Francis' latest motu proprio concretizes and streamlines into legal format that which had already materialized within the CDF — the growing importance of the disciplinary section by the mere preponderance of criminal cases of abuse of minors needing to be prosecuted," he explained.
Vatican insiders also told Church Militant that Pope Francis has already hijacked the term "evangelization," as most hierarchs do not understand the term any longer as "conversion" of non-Catholics to Catholicism or the "saving of souls," but as "integral liberation."
An insider noted:
The emphasis on understanding doctrine in the light of "the progress of the sciences" and "the development of society" is deeply disconcerting, especially in the light of Cdl. Jean-Claude's recent statement that Church teaching on homosexuality "is false" because the "sociological–scientific foundation of this teaching is no longer correct."
"As Francis neutralized the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, so he is now subverting the CDF into a domesticated body that will no longer have the heavy artillery to fight the homosexual blitzkrieg on the Church," the source lamented.
Pope Francis is poised to appoint the pro-LGBTQ+ archbishop of Malta, Charles Scicluna, as prefect of the CDF, replacing the current conservative prefect, 77-year-old Cdl. Luis Ladaria, Church Militant earlier reported. Scicluna is presently one of the two adjunct secretaries of the CDF.
Monday's motu proprio (Latin for "on its own initiative") marks the 46th occasion Francis has issued legislation in such a manner. Fidem Servare will be the most significant reorganization of the dicastery in over 30 years.