The new Statute for the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life was published by the Vatican on May 8.
The new Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life was instituted by Pope Francis on August 15, 2016 with the Motu Proprio, ‘Sedula Mater’, and was placed under a Statute on an experimental basis on June 4th 2016, and came into effect on September 1, 2016.
The new Dicastery was invested with responsibilities and functions that previously belonged to the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family, which are now defunct. Also linked to the Dicastery is the Pontifical Academy for Life and the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences.
Like the previous Statute, the new Statute has been approved on an experimental basis, and will come into effect on May 13.
Dicastery no longer divided into three sections
The first novelty of the Statute is that the Dicastery is not divided into three sections, although it has more responsibilities. " In accordance with the principles of collegiality, synodality and subsidiarity, the Dicastery will maintain relations with the Episcopal Conferences, local Churches and other ecclesial bodies, promoting exchange between them and offering its collaboration to promote values and initiatives” related to issues mentioned in the Statute.
Promotion of the lay faithful in the Church and in the world
The Dicastery is to animate and encourage the promotion of the vocation and mission of the lay faithful in the Church and in the world, as individuals, married or not, and also as members belonging to associations, movements and communities. It will also promote an awareness of co-responsibility, by virtue of Baptism, for the life and mission of the Church, according to the different charisms received for common edification, with particular attention to the special mission of the lay faithful in animating and improving the ordering of temporal affairs.
The role of young people
The new Statute urges a “special solicitude of the Church for young people, "promoting their leadership amidst the challenges of today's world.” In this regard, one of the Dicastery’s main job is to prepare the World Youth Days.
The Statute specifies that the Dicastery will deepen its reflection on the relationship between man and woman in their respective specificity, reciprocity, complementarity and equal dignity. By valuing the feminine 'genius', the Dicastery will contribute to “the ecclesial reflection on the identity and mission of women in the Church and in society, promoting their participation".
Pastoral care of the family
The Dicastery will promote the pastoral care of the family, protect its dignity and wellbeing, based on the sacrament of marriage, and foster its rights and responsibilities in the Church and in civil society, so that the family institution can always better fulfil its functions both in the ecclesial and in the social sphere. In this regard, it will promote international conferences and events, especially the World Meeting of Families.
Referring to the Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia”, the new Statute “expresses the pastoral care of the Church also in relation to so-called “irregular” situations in married life.
The new Statute calls on the Dicastery to support and coordinate “initiatives in favour of responsible procreation, as well as for the protection of human life from its conception to its natural end, taking into account the needs of the person in the different phases of evolution". The Dicastery will all promote and encourage organizations and associations that help women and families to welcome and foster the gift of life, especially in the case of difficult pregnancies, and to prevent recourse to abortion. It also will support programmes and initiatives to help women who have had recourse to abortion.
The new Statute reiterates that the Dicastery will study and promote training on the main problems of biomedicine and law related to human life and on ideologies that are developing with regard human life human race.