(Vatican Radio) With a moto proprio, Pope Francis announced the establishment of a Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life. The Prefect of the new Dicastery will be the Irish-born Bishop Kevin Joseph Farrell, currently serving as Bishop of Dallas.
In his Apostolic Letter the Pope wrote that the new Dicastery will be "governed by special Statues" and all the responsibilities and functions held by the current Pontifical Councils for the Laity and for the Family will be transferred to the new Dicastery from September 1st. After that date the two Councils in question will cease to exist.
As a loving Mother, the Pope wrote, the Church has always throughout the centuries shown her concern for the laity, the family and life, by witnessing our Lord's merciful love for humanity and we want to ensure that "the riches of Jesus Christ are poured out appropriately and with profusion among the faithful."
For this reason, we are taking prompt moves so that that "the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia can respond to the situation of our times and adapt to the needs of the universal Church. In particular, our thoughts are turned towards the laity, the family and life to whom we wish to offer our support and help so that they are active witnesses of the Gospel in our times and as an expression of the goodness of the Lord."
The mission of the new Department will be developed in three sections.
- To promote the vocation and mission of the lay faithful in the Church and in the world;
- To study and contribute to the doctrinal examination of themes and issues regarding the lay faithful;
- To encourage the active and responsible presence of the laity in the advisory organs of governance present in the Church at universal and particular levels;
- To evaluate the initiatives of Episcopal Conferences that make requests to the Holy See, in accordance with the needs of the particular Churches.
- To promote family pastoral ministry, protect its dignity and well-being based on the sacrament of marriage, promote its rights and responsibility in both ecclesial and social contexts;
- To monitor the activity of the Catholic institutes, associations, movements and organisations, national and international, which aim to serve the good of the family;
- To offer guidelines for courses preparing couples for marriage and for pastoral programmes to support families in the education of young people in faith and in ecclesial and civil life, with special attention to the poor and the marginalised;
- To encourage openness of families to adoption and fostering of children and care for the elderly, with a presence also in civil institutions in support of these practices.
- To support and coordinate activities to encourage responsible procreation and the protection of human life from conception to natural end;
- To promote and encourage organisations and associations helping women and families to welcome and protect the gift of life, especially in the case of difficult pregnancies, and to prevent recourse to abortion;
- To support programmes and initiatives intended to help women who have terminated a pregnancy;
- To study and promote formation on the main issues of biomedicine and of the law regarding human life and the ideologies developing in relation to human life and gender identity.