How Praedicate evangelium changes the Vatican’s dicasteries: A CNA Explainer

How Praedicate evangelium changes the Vatican’s dicasteries: A CNA Explainer.

Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square on Oct. 22, 2016. Credit: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk. / null

Vatican City, Mar 19, 2022 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis has promulgated a new apostolic constitution, Praedicate evangelium, which reforms the structure of the Roman Curia, the administration at the Vatican that assists the pope in governing the 1.2-billion strong Catholic Church.

Among the changes, which will come into force on June 5, the Solemnity of Pentecost, the Vatican’s congregations and pontifical councils will all be juridically equal “dicasteries.”

Here are the new names and functions of the 16 Vatican dicasteries in the Roman Curia, according to the new constitution:

Dicastery for Evangelization

The name of the constitution, Praedicate evangelium, means “Preach the Gospel” in Latin. And the first Vatican dicastery listed in its text is the Dicastery for Evangelization, indicating its centrality in the new structure of the Roman Curia.

The Dicastery for Evangelization will be presided over by the pope. It combines together the former the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

The dicastery will have two sections, each governed in the pope’s name by a “pro-prefect.” One section will focus on the “fundamental questions of evangelization in the world” and the other on supporting the initial proclamation of the Gospel in mission territories, including the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

Dicastery for the Service of Charity

What was formerly known as the Office of Papal Charities, run by the papal almoner Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, will become the Dicastery for the Service of Charity.

According to the constitution, the dicastery will serve as a special expression of God’s mercy by providing charitable assistance to the poor, vulnerable, and the excluded in the name of the pope, who arranges for the aid to be given wherever in the world there is need or on the occasion of grave calamities.

According to Vatican News, the changes give the office “a more significant role in the Curia.”

Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith

Praedicate evangelium confirms the changes that Pope Francis already made to the former Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith last month.

The pope reorganized the internal structure of the Vatican’s powerful doctrine office into two sections: a doctrinal section and a disciplinary section.

Setting out the doctrinal section’s responsibilities, the new constitution says that it works in close contact with Church leaders around the world “in the exercise of their mission as authentic teachers and teachers of the faith, for which they are bound to safeguard and promote the integrity of that faith.”

The constitution also establishes the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors as party of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, a change that Cardinal Seán O’Malley hailed as “a significant move forward” in fostering a stronger culture of safeguarding throughout the Curia and the entire Church.

Dicastery for Culture and Education

The new Dicastery for Culture and Education merges together the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Congregation for Catholic Education.

Divided into two sections, the dicastery will work “for the development of human values in people within the horizon of Christian anthropology, contributing to the full realization of Christian discipleship.”

The dicastery will also coordinate the activities of some of the pontifical academies, such as the Pontifical Academy of Archeology and the Pontifical Academy of Theology.

Dicastery for the Causes of Saints

Regarding the body now known as the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, the new constitution says: “It is for the dicastery to judge the granting of the title of Doctor of the Church to a saint, after having obtained the vote of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith concerning their eminent doctrine.”

Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

The constitution says that the newly named Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is responsible for arranging “the drafting or revision and updating of the typical [original Latin] editions of liturgical books.”

It states that “the dicastery deals with the regulation and discipline of the sacred liturgy as regards the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.”

Dicastery for the Eastern Churches

Like the Congregation for the Eastern Churches that came before it, this dicastery will deal with matters concerning the Eastern Catholic Churches, which are sui iuris – autonomous churches with specific rites that are in communion with Rome and subject to the governance of the pope.

Dicastery for Bishops

The newly named Dicastery for Bishops is responsible for everything relating to the exercise of episcopal offices in the Latin Church, including the appointment of diocesan and titular bishops and apostolic administrators.

The constitution confirms that the Pontifical Commission for Latin America is under the auspices of the dicastery.

Dicastery for the Clergy

Another new “dicastery,” the body formerly known as the Congregation for Clergy, has competence in everything that refers to priests and deacons of the diocesan clergy with regard to their persons, their pastoral ministry, and what is necessary for their fruitful exercise.

Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life

The competences of the former Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life remain nearly unchanged. The dicastery’s responsibility also extends to Third Orders and to associations of the faithful established with a view to becoming an Institute of Consecrated Life or a Society of Apostolic Life.

Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity

This is the Vatican body that deals with ecumenism. In addition, in order to advance the relationship between Catholics and the Jewish people, the Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism is set up within the dicastery.

Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue

The Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue promotes and regulates relations with members and groups of religions that are not included under the Christian name, with the exception of Judaism whose competence belongs to the Dicastery for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

Dicastery for Legislative Texts

Formerly called the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, the competences of the Dicastery for Legislative Texts remain largely unchanged in the new constitution. The body will continue to interpret the laws of the Church.

Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development

Pope Francis already established this dicastery as part of his reform of the Roman Curia that came into effect in 2017. The pope entrusted the dicastery with responsibility for “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.”

Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life

Also already a part of the pope’s previous reform efforts, Pope Francis established this dicastery in 2016. The new constitution emphasizes that the dicastery collaborates with the Pontifical Academy for Life on the issues of the protection and promotion of human life and and with the “Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and the Family,” to promote a common direction in studies on marriage, family and life.

Dicastery for Communication

This department is responsible for the entire communications system of the Apostolic See and unifies all the Holy See’s communication activities. In carrying out its functions, it acts in collaboration with the competent curial institutions and in particular with the Secretariat of State.

Praedicate evangelium underlines that “any member of the faithful” can lead one of newly constituted Vatican dicasteries or other bodies, “given their particular competence, power of governance and function.”

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