Catholic World News

Pope establishes new Vatican office for Laity, Family, and Life

August 17, 2016

Pope Francis has formally established a new Vatican dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life.

Beginning on September 1, the new office will take over the functions of the existing Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Pontifical Council for the Family, and the Pontifical Academy for Life.  

Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas as prefect of the new dicastery. [See today's separate CWN headline story.]

With a motu proprio entitled Sedula Mater ("conscientious mother"), the Pontiff formally set up the new office. He had established the dicastery in June, announcing that it would open on September 1. The new document, issued on August 17, clarifies that announcement.

In his motu proprio the Pope explains that the new Vatican office is designed to help the universal Church respond to the particular needs of our time. “In particular, our thoughts turn to the laity, the family, and life, to whom we wish to offer support and help, because they are active witness to the Gospel in our time and an expression of the goodness of the Redeemer," the Pope writes.

Oddly, the August 17 announcement from the Vatican described the new office only as a "dicastery"-- the term used for offices of the Roman Curia-- without answering the question of whether it would be classified as a Congregation. There are currently nine congregations, representing the highest level of the Vatican's organizational chart. There has been speculation that the new office would be placed on the same level, underlining its importance. 

The three offices being merged into the new dicastery-- the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Pontifical Council for the Family, and Pontifical Academy for Life--  will cease to exist when the new office opens on September 1.



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