Between popes: Vatican business continues as usual — almost
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When Pope Benedict XVI officially leaves office at 8 p.m. Feb. 28, most of the top-level Vatican officials lose their jobs, but that does not mean the majority of Vatican employees get a vacation.
Although Catholics inside and outside the Vatican love to complain about its unwieldy bureaucracy, coordinating the universal ministry of the church involves a steady flow of paperwork, correspondence and meeting planning. All of that continues even when there is no pope.
However, the publication of documents, the nomination of new bishops and the approval of statutes for Catholic universities and religious orders are suspended. Anything that must be issued in the name of the Vatican or in the name of the pope must be approved by Pope Benedict’s successor.
“The general rule is that all ordinary business continues,” the secretary of one Vatican congregation told Catholic News Service during the “interregnum” — the period between popes — in 2005. “Like in most bureaucracies, most of our business is ordinary business.”
Commissions and subcommittees continue to meet, reports continue to be prepared, letters are answered and Vatican officials try to tidy their desks enough to be able to inform the new pope about exactly where their various projects stand.