VATICAN (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis is approving a new dicastery for the laity, the family and life.
This super dicastery merges the current Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family; it will additionally be connected to the Pontifical Academy for Life according to its competence.
The Holy See announced Saturday Pope Francis has approved the new dicastery's statutes "ad experimentum," meaning for a period of time and subject to revision.
The Vatican's press release also noted the dicastery would take effect September 1; on that date the Holy See expressly stated the previous dicasteries, namely the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family, would be suppressed.
The Holy See press release related the statutes were proposed by the Council of Cardinals, also known as the Pope's nine-member advisory council. This dates back to an announcement made by Pope Francis in October during the Synod of Bishops where he indicated his intention to establish such an institute and have the College of Cardinals define the department's areas of competency.
As ChurchMilitant.com reported, the Holy Father at that time stated,
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 Pontifical Academy for Life will be joined to the new Dicastery. 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.
According to the statutes of this much anticipated dicastery, the Pontifical Academy for Life would begin working in cooperation with this recently erected dicastery in promoting "responsible procreation" and "human life from conception to its natural end."
A prefect will head the new Vatican body, assisted by a secretary, who could be a lay person as per the statutes; there will also be three lay undersecretaries as indicated by the approved charter.
The dicastery will be tasked with many duties including the analysis of doctrine regarding questions pertaining to lay persons. Another focus, as per the charter, will be the "deepening of the doctrine of the family," especially regarding the spirituality of marriage and the family.
The competency of this super dicastery will cover the apostolate of the laity, the institution of marriage, and the family within the life of the Church. It will also deal with matters regarding the promotion of life, the apostolate of the laity and the pastoral care of the family, according to statutes approved Saturday by Pope Francis.
The establishment of this dicastery is part of the Pope's highly publicised efforts to reform the Roman Curia. At present, the Curia is composed of nine congregations, three tribunals, 12 pontifical councils, approximately three dozen other offices, agencies, commissions and committees, along with the Secretariat of State and the Secretariat for the Economy.
The Holy See has yet to announce a prefect to head the newly established dicastery.