On August 31, Pope Francis issued an apostolic letter motu proprio (of his own accord) instituting the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
The new Roman Curia department will take effect January 1, 2017 and replace four Pontifical Councils dedicated to charity and human development. Cardinal Peter Turkson, current President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, will head the new dicastery.
According to a bulletin from the Holy See Press Office, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will be especially “competent 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,”.
I was dismayed to see headlines popping up immediately after the apostolic letter’s release inaccurately suggesting that it’s main focus was the care of migrants and refugees.
Yes, that is a concern. And it’s also a hot-button political issue that some outlets like to hijack to increase readership. But, it’s not the central issue of the apostolic letter.
The new dicastery will see to the care of other groups as well. For that reason, I want to bring it to your attention and to allow you to read the complete letter for yourself.
Below is the full text of the Holy Father’s apostolic letter, initially published in the Osservatore Romano.
Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio
by the Supreme Pontiff Francis
instituting the DICASTERY FOR PROMOTING INTEGRAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
In all her being and actions, the Church is called to promote the integral development of the human person in the light of the Gospel. This development takes place by attending to the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation. The Successor of the Apostle Peter, in his work of affirming these values, is continuously adapting the institutions which collaborate with him, so that they may better meet the needs of the men and women whom they are called to serve.
So that the Holy See may be solicitous in these areas, as well as in those regarding health and charitable works, I institute the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. 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.
In the new Dicastery, governed by the Statutes that today I approve ad experimentum, the competences of the following Pontifical Councils will be merged, as of 1 January 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. On that date these four Dicasteries will cease exercising their functions and will be suppressed, and articles 142-153 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus will be abrogated.
I decree that what has been set out in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio have the force of law, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, even if worthy of special mention, and that it be promulgated by publication in L’Osservatore Romano, therefore published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, entering into force on 1 January 2017.
Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 17 August 2016, the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Fourth Year of my Pontificate.