A Note sent out today by the Dicastery for Integral Human Development explains that Holy Father has allowed this new Vatican office more time to fulfill the re-organization requirements of moving from four pontifical councils to becoming one single office. The Note was dated January 26, 2017.

This communiqué notes that this Dicastery came into being last August 2016 with Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter motu proprio Humanam progressionem. This was accompanied by what was called “an experimental Statute” that would “guide and orient its activity.”

On January 1, 2017, the new Dicastery was to “enter into function,” at which time the four pontifical councils, whose duties were taken over by the Dicastery, would cease to exist. Those councils were Justice and Peace, Cor Unum, Ministry for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples and the Ministry for Health Care Workers. It was noted that, “within the new Dicastery a section was created that deals specifically with matters concerning refugees and migrants that is in contact with and receives instructions from the Holy Father.” (ANSA photo of Pope and migrants on Lampedusa island)


“Given that the time allowed for this reorganization was very narrow,” continues the Note, “the Holy Father has extended the time, granting until Easter 2017 for the full activation of the statute.”

The Note explains that the Dicastery “is presided over by a Prefect, assisted by a Secretary and at least one Under-secretary, who can also be faithful lay people.” The prefect for this Dicastery is Cardinal Peter Turkson. Two under-secretaries have been nominated, “whose specific duty is to accompany the section for migrants and refugees. Until others are named, Cardinal Turkson has decided to main, in the vest of ‘delegates’ those who had headed the four councils. Thus, at least temporarily, categories for “secretary delegate” and under-secretary delegates” have been created.


The Dicastery communiqué indicates that, at least in a transitory fashion, the offices occupied by the four councils in the San Callisto building in Trastevere or on Via della Conciliazione continue to function, as do the current phone numbers, fax numbers, email addresses and social profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube channels (which the Note listed). A general email address has been activated. All of this will be gradually modified in coming months as a single office is eventually formed.