VATICAN CITY -- In June, Pope Benedict XVI announced he was establishing a major Vatican agency to deal with "new evangelization" in traditionally Christian countries.
The pope's initiative was seen as a bold stroke in the church's ongoing effort to engage the modern world. But three months later, the project is still stuck in the slow wheels of Vatican bureaucracy.
Officially, in fact, the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization doesn't yet exist. Although the pope proclaimed its formation and then named its president, Italian Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the office will formally be launched only with publication an apostolic constitution, in which the pope will lay out the council's structure and tasks.
In the meantime, Archbishop Fisichella is in a kind of limbo.
"We're hoping it will come around the end of September. I don't know any more than that. We need to be patient with the bureaucracy here," he said.
The pope keeps mentioning the importance of the new council. Most recently, he urged British bishops to "avail yourselves of its services."