By Robin Gomes
The Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has just completed its first year of activity. The Dicastery is an outcome of Pope Francis reform of the Roman Curia to overhaul and stream line the central administration of the Catholic Church here in the Vatican.
The Pope announced the new Dicastery on 31 August 2016 with the release of his Motu Proprio “Humanam progressionem”(Latin for “Human Development”). He appointed Cardinal Peter Turkson, the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to be its first prefect.
The Dicastery came into effect on 1 January 2017, with the merger of four Pontifical Councils: Justice and Peace, Cor Unum, Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, and Health Care Workers.
Cardinal Turkson spoke to Stefano Leszczynky of Vatican News about the first year of activity of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
Four levels of activity
He outlined four levels of activity. The first is merging the four Pontifical Councils into a single dicastery. The second is managing the personnel and staff, ensuring sure there is no overlapping of activites. The third is having a location or office for the new dicastery, which Cardinal Turkson said is “still under construction”. However, they need to get things going. It is about “getting the elephant on its feet and making it move,” he said.
The Dicastery’s also needs to share its “story” with the rest of the Church by organizing a lot of meetings with regional episcopal conferences. The Prefect of the Dicastery said they have held many meetings with bishops’ conferences during their ‘ad limina’ visit to Rome in 2017, explaining the “core business” of the Dicastery.
Collegial action on “Laudato Si”
Cardinal Turkson said they also want to tell the episcopal conferences about Pope Francis environmental encyclical of 2015, “Laudato Si”. Many local churches, the cardinal noted, have developed study groups and “subsidiary instruments” for the application of the encyclical but many others have done nothing.
The Ghanaian cardinal said that “Laudato Si” is a “great example of collegial action” because the Pope quotes a lot from the episcopal conferences around the world, “suggesting he is teaching with the local episcopal conferences.” Hence, it is time local Churches come “on board” to get the message of the encyclical out. This collegiality, the cardinal explained, is bi-directional, not unidirectional, and the Dicastery wants to ensure this happens.
Retreat for Dicastery
Speaking about this year, Cardinal Turkson said he plans to organize a “small retreat” for the superiors at the headquarters of the Dicastery, which will not just be prayers but will also include inputs by experts to help them keep focused on their “objectives and core mission”. This will be passed on to the rest of the staff, so all “move together”.
Funding mission Churches
Regarding funding mission Churches around the world will still continue, Cardinal Turkson said, but the Dicastery needs to find fund-raising mechanisms to replenish their stocks. He noted that aid for the Churches is the southern hemisphere is “always dwindling”, but pastoral work is on the increase.
The Prefect said they need to provide local churches access to certain capital and ethical investment instead of relying on donations and grants. They need to “make money serve the human person, not the human person serve money,” as Pope Francis put it. In this regard, Cardinal Turkson said he has organized 3 seminars on this and they now need to take to the local Churches whose personnel and staff need to be trained and prepared accordingly.