Memo to Vatican reformers: Don’t take cues from the gas company

Crux | 7/18/2018 | Staff
Claw987Claw987 (Posted by) Level 4
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Outsiders to the Vatican often find themselves wondering why the pace of things seems so slow. As the old joke goes, Rome’s working motto tends to be, “Talk to me on Wednesday, and I’ll get back to you in 300 years.”

Confirmation of those impressions is readily available, from Vatican departments that can take years to bring out documents whose conclusions could have been scripted from the very beginning, to tribunals where the wheels of justice grind at a notoriously glacial pace.

Vatican - Inefficiency - Tip - Living - Italy

For those inclined to grouse about Vatican inefficiency, however, here’s a tip: Try living in Italy for 6 months, and then let’s talk.

The truth is that the Vatican, at its core, is an Italian institution, reflecting the patterns and assumptions of the surrounding Italian culture. That remains the case despite various attempts to “internationalize” the Church’s central government over the years, including those by Pope Francis.

Context - Surprise - Vatican - Anything - Years

In that context, the surprise about the Vatican probably isn’t that it occasionally can be ponderous - it’s more likely that anything ever gets done at all. After more than twenty years of moving in and out of the Eternal City, I’ve recently had an experience that’s brought this truth home anew.

For some years now, I’ve split my time between Rome and the States. I maintain an apartment in Rome because it’s cheaper over the course of 12 months than hotels, plus I can leave things there so I don’t have to check bags when I move back and forth. Earlier this spring, I decided to switch apartments when a nicer place became available for the same money and in the same neighborhood near the Vatican.

Resident - Apartment - Space - City - Blocks

One might think that a part-time resident moving from one small one-bedroom apartment to another, over a space of just a few city blocks, would be among history’s least complicated...
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