By Linda Bordoni
Another year full of events and changes has gone by in the Vatican. One important novelty was represented by the creation of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development which Pope Francis announced in August 2016 and that became effective on 1 January, 2017.
The Dicastery combined the work of four Pontifical Councils: Justice and Peace, Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers and Cor Unum.
Pope Francis clearly has great expectations for the Dicastery to which he gave 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".
Dr. Flaminia Giovanelli, the delegate Undersecretary of the Dicastery spoke to us about its first year of activity.
New challenges born from the need to work well together
Giovanelli said one of the first challenges faced by the staff at the new Dicastery was to get to know each other and to find new and productive ways of working together.
Another challenge, she continued, is the one to avoid confusion because, she pointed out, although it is true that everything is connected, it become even more necessary to be focussed and not neglect important aspects of the Dicastery’s work that have to do with reflection and the pastoral aspect of the work.
Meeting with the Vincentians
Giovanelli recalled a very interesting meeting organized during 2017 with the Vincentian Order that was celebrating an important anniversary.
“The Vincentians are very active in working with the poor, and especially with the homeless” she said.
A new perspective on the issue of homelessness
She said the meeting, that took place in Rome, gave the new Dicastery the occasion – and the pleasure - of collaborating with the Vincentians which provided a very interesting opportunity to touch on “this huge social issue of homelessness”.
Giovanelli commented on how homelessness has increased globally and commented on how she was shocked, during a recent visit to Berkeley, to see so many homeless people in the street.
She said it is clear that the phenomenon is tied not only to a question of lack of money: “in Africa you do not see so many homeless people”, she said, expressing her belief for the need of a new perspective as homelessness is such a complex phenomenon with roots in many different issues.
Pope Francis' call to put mercy into action
It was watching mercy in action as called for by Pope Francis, Giovanelli concluded: “an example we should all follow.”