Vatican City, Aug 31, 2016 / 04:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ decision to form a new mega-dicastery merging the Vatican offices for Justice and Peace, Migrants, charity and healthcare.
Dedicated to “Promoting Integral Human Development,” the new department – also called a dicastery – was announced in an Aug. 31 communique from the Vatican.
The announcement was accompanied by the Motu Proprio “Humanam progressionem,” meaning “Human Development,” by which Pope Francis formally established the dicastery “Promoting Integral Human Development.”
Set to take effect Jan. 1, 2017, the new congregation will take on the tasks of the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, Cor Unum, and Healthcare Workers.
It will be headed by Cardinal Peter Turkson, who since March 2013 has served as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Francis’ decision to establish the new dicastery is part of his ongoing reform of the Roman Curia, and is a fruit of meetings with his Council of Cardinals, who advise him on matters of Church governance and reform.
During their Sept. 14-16, 2015, meeting at the Vatican, the Council of Cardinals submitted a proposal to the Pope to establish two new mega-dicasteries, one dedicated to Laity, Family and Life, and one dedicated to Justice, Peace and Charity.
The new congregation for Laity, Family and Life was officially announced by Francis during the October 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family, and is headed by Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas. It will officially go into effect tomorrow, Sept. 1.
In addition to taking on the tasks of the pontifical councils for the laity and the family, the new department for Laity, Family and Life will also assume the competencies of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
While the original name of the new congregation for Integral Human Development was initially expected to include the elements of the councils it will merge, the final choice is a reflection of Pope Francis’ own personal style and is reminiscent of themes he has spoken of frequently since his election.
In his Motu Proprio “Humanam progressionem,” signed Aug. 17, Pope Francis stressed that the Church is called to promote the integral development of the human person in the light of the Gospel, which “takes place by attending to the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation.”
He approved the statutes for the new dicastery “ad experimentum,” explaining that it will be competent “particularly in issues regarding migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture.”
As of Jan. 1, 2017, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, and the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers “will cease exercising their functions,” and the new mega-dicastery will take effect.