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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican issued a correction saying Pope Francis had not authorized the establishment of an expanded and centralized human resources department, but that the new department was just a proposal and the pope still had to review it.
The Vatican press office had released a bulletin March 6 announcing that Pope Francis had welcomed the proposal from his Council of Cardinals and the Vatican Council for the Economy and "ordered the establishment of the 'general management of personnel'" office.
However, the press office released a communique the next day saying the new personnel office was merely "a proposal given to the Holy Father by Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the Council for the Economy, and Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, president of the Council of Cardinals," suggesting the establishment of such a structure.
"The Holy Father will study the proposal and, if he considers it appropriate, he will establish the structure in due time in the manner he decides with a specific 'motu proprio,'" it said.
The cardinals' proposal was part of the ongoing reform of the Roman Curia. According to the March 6 statement, the proposal was to have one general management office of personnel for all Vatican-related institutions and entities.
It would expand the current personnel office, which handles staff members of the Vatican dicasteries and offices connected with the Holy See, by including staff connected with every other entity dependent upon or connected with the Vatican, such as the Vatican bank, various maintenance departments, administrative departments, chapters, foundations, organizations and guesthouses.
It was to have "strategic, inspectorial and actionable powers," be in charge of coordination, management and oversight, and come under the authority of the Secretariat of State's section for general affairs.
It was not the first time the press office had published a proposal as having papal approval when it did not.
A Vatican press office briefing and bulletin announced in June 2015 that Pope Francis had "approved proposals and authorized that sufficient resources" be provided for a new "judicial section" in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith "to judge bishops with regard to crimes of abuse of office."
Vatican officials had told reporters the Council of Cardinals and Pope Francis had approved the proposal presented by Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
Reporters and at least one member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors -- Marie Collins, who later resigned, citing resistance to reform efforts -- were led to believe the proposal only needed implementation.
Instead, the "approval" of the tribunal was not a "papal fiat," but was just a green light for the offices involved to flesh out what procedures could uphold greater accountability, a source familiar with the situation told Catholic News Service in 2017.
Cardinal Gerhard Muller, then-prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had told an Italian newspaper in 2017 that the proposal for a new judicial section in the doctrinal office had never been a mandate, but only "a plan."
Typically, papal decrees and decisions by dicasteries are considered promulgated when they are published in the "Acta Apostolicae Sedis," the Vatican’s official bulletin of record.