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Council of Cardinals, Pope meet to refine plans for 2 new Vatican congregations

December 09, 2014

The Council of Cardinals is meeting this week with Pope Francis, to discuss a new round of reforms that will likely call for the creation of two new Vatican congregations, combining the functions of several existing offices.

The 9-member Council of Cardinals is expected to work on refining a proposal that was presented to the existing leadership of the Roman Curia by Pope Francis at a meeting on November 24. The plan calls for the creation of one congregation to handle questions related to the laity, and another to handle political and social issues.

In an interview with La Stampa last week, Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga Rodriguez of Tegulcigalpa, Honduras, the chairman of the Council of Cardinals, declared flatly that the plans for the creation of the new offices was now definitely moving forward. “The two bodies dedicated to the laity and charity are certain,” he said.

The congregation handling lay affairs would presumably take on the work currently done by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and the Pontifical Council for the Family. It could also have offices dedicated to work with young people and with lay movements.

The other new congregation could combine the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, for Migrants, for Health Care, and the charitable work Cor Unum.

A congregation is the most important sort of office in the Vatican hierarchy. Ordinarily each congregation is headed by a cardinal. But Pope Francis has indicated that new congregations—particularly those dedicated to the laity and public life—might draw leaders from the laity.


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