VATICAN CITY (CNS) — To promote Catholic social teaching and ensure appropriate assistance to vulnerable people — especially victims of war, refugees and the sick — Pope Francis has established a new office combing the responsibilities of four pontifical councils.
In an apostolic letter given “motu proprio” (on his own initiative) and published by the Vatican Aug. 31, the pope said the new “Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development” will merge the pontifical councils for Justice and Peace, Cor Unum, Migrants and Travelers, and Health Care Ministry.
The pope named Cardinal Peter Turkson, current president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, to serve as prefect of the new office, which will begin functioning Jan. 1.
In his letter signed Aug. 17, the pope said, “This dicastery 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.”
According to the new statutes, the prefect will be assisted by a secretary and “at least one undersecretary.” Laypeople can be chosen for either role.
While Cardinal Turkson will lead the new office, a section dedicated to refugees and migrants will be led “ad tempus” (for the time being) directly by the pope, who will “exercise it in the manner he deems appropriate,” the statutes state.
The new dicastery’s responsibilities include gathering news and information regarding areas of justice and peace and the protection of human rights, particularly in areas where people are plagued by violence, migration, slavery, torture and exploitation, the Vatican said.
The new office will work to “deepen the social doctrine of the church and ensure that it is widely known and put into practice and that social, economic and political relationships will be increasingly permeated by the spirit of the Gospel,” the press statement said.
Ensuring that local churches offer appropriate material and spiritual assistance to the sick, migrants, refugees and itinerant people also is part of the new office’s mandate.
The Dicastery for Promoting Integrating Human Development will have separate commissions for charity, ecology and health workers and will maintain a “close relationship” with the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, the Vatican said.
Pope Francis approved the statutes “ad experimentum” (on a trial basis) for an unspecified period of time.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103