23 October 2015
Christopher Lamb in Rome
Francis to set up new dicastery on Laity, Family and Life
A new Vatican department overseeing "laity, family and life" has been announced by Pope Francis.
“I have decided to establish a new dicastery with competency for Laity, Family and Life, that will replace the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family,” the Pope said yesterday, according to a communique from the Holy See press office.
“To this end, I have constituted a special commission that will prepare a text delineating canonically the competencies of the new Dicastery. The text will be presented for discussion to the Council of Cardinals at their next meeting in December.”
The council of nine cardinals (C9) advising the Pope has been working on reform of the Roman Curia and last month formally submit a proposal to create the new body.
It will mean the streamline three pontifical councils of family, life and laity and give greater attention to the role of the laity in the church.
Archbishop of Bombay Oswald Gracias, a member of the C9, told The Tablet: "The Holy Father announced today that he is starting a congregation for the laity, family and life. I think that congregation will certainly study the issues [raised by the synod] a little bit more and he is going to put it to the G9 about the modalities of work when they meet in December.
"I am sure this dicastery will have the responsibility of studying further this document."
While the Pope used the word dicastery - which covers both councils and congregations in the Vatican - it is expected the laity, family and life department will be a congregation.
Another member of the C9, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez, has in the past suggested that this congregation could be led by a married couple.
A second congregation dealing with charity, justice and peace is also expected to be announced in the coming months.
The reform of the curia has been a priority for the C9 since its creation back in April 2013. So far their work has led to the creation of new Secretariats for the Economy and Communications, a Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and reform of the Vatican bank.
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