Cardinals formally recommend creation of Vatican office for charity, justice, peace

Vatican City — The nine cardinals advising Pope Francis on reforming the Vatican bureaucracy have formally recommended that the pontiff create a new multi-departmental office to streamline the Catholic church’s worldwide efforts on justice, peace, charity, migration and healthcare.

Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said the Council of Cardinals recommended that Francis create a new dicastery, or Vatican office, with a current working title of “Charity, Justice and Peace.”

As previously indicated, the new office has been envisioned to merge the efforts of the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, for the Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, and for human and Christian development, known as Cor Unum.

The Council of Cardinals, created by Francis to help him in reforming what is known as the Roman Curia, has been meeting with the pope in Rome Monday through Wednesday for the 15th of its in-person meetings.

The only American serving on the Council is Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley.

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Lombardi said the group made the recommendation in the course of its meetings this week and that the matter now rests with the pope for final consideration and decision.

Creation of a new centralized Vatican office for justice and peace issues has been discussed for months. Following similar discussions with the Council of Cardinals, Francis created a new Vatican office Saturday merging Vatican efforts on laity, family and life issues.

During their discussions this week, Lombardi said the Council evaluated the functioning of several Vatican offices, including: the Secretariat of State, and the Congregations for Bishops, for Catholic Education, the Oriental Churches, and the Clergy.

The spokesman also said the Council had discussed the “simplification and harmonization” of the work of different Vatican offices and possible efforts to decentralize certain matters to local bishops’ conferences.

The cardinals’ group last met in April and is scheduled to meet again Sept. 12-14 and Dec. 12-14.

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is jmcelwee@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

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