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New congregation at Vatican gobbles up three others

VATICAN (SE): Coming up to the conclusion of the Synod of Bishops on Family Life, Pope Francis announced that he is establishing a new Vatican congregation: the Congregation for Laity, Family and Life.

Vatican Radio reported on October 22 that the new congregation will replace the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Council for the Laity, and the Academy for Life.

The pope announced his decision on October 22 during an address to the Synod of Bishops. 

He said that he has created a commission to draft canonical statutes for the new congregation and these will be reviewed by the Council of Cardinals at their next meeting in December.

The pope’s move has been widely anticipated as part of his reform of the Roman Curia.

At a meeting from September 14 to 16, the Council of Cardinals recommended the creation of this new body.

A proposal to create a second new congregation, dealing with issues of charity, justice and peace, remains under discussion.

The Vatican congregations are the most important offices of the Roman Curia. The new body will join nine existing congregations.

CNS reported that Pope Francis has also asked the Council of Cardinals to look at the manner in which bishops are chosen by the Holy See and especially to study the qualities that are necessary for a bishop in today’s world.

The Vatican spokesperson, Father Federico Lombardi, told the media that with 150 or so bishops being named each year, identifying suitable candidates is a normal part of Church governance.

He explained that the process is long, beginning with questionnaires to people who may know the candidate and then gathering information, usually collected by the nunciature in the particular country.

It then goes to the Congregation for Bishops or the Evangelisation of Peoples for what are designated mission lands for their recommendations.

He said that the cardinals have been studying what may be more appropriate questions to be asked in gathering information on the candidates. He described this as a constant and normal procedure.


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