New statutes for Vatican laity, family, life office cement links with JPII Institute

Vatican City, May 8, 2018 / 11:15 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life published updated statutes Tuesday, reconfirming their connection with the re-formed Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute, established by Pope Francis in September 2017.

The statutes say the dicastery “is directly linked to the ‘Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences,’ both with headquarters and affiliated institutes, to promote a common direction in marriage, family and life studies.”

The new statutes also state a required minimum of only two lay under-secretaries, rather than the previously required three – one to head each of the three sections on laity, family and life – suggesting that the awaited appointment of a third under-secretary may be on hold.

The dicastery had two under-secretaries, Dr. Gabriella Gambino for the section on laity and Dr. Linda Ghisoni for the section on life, appointed late last year.

An additional update is the dicastery’s work to “deepen the reflection on the relationship between men and women in their respective specificity, reciprocity, complementarity and equal dignity” and to promote the participation of women in the Church and society, through valuing the “feminine genius.”

Regarding youth, the dicastery also highlighted the “particular concern of the Church for the young… in the midst of the challenges of today’s world” and stated its support for the pope’s initiatives in the area of youth ministry.

Pope Francis approved the statutes ad experimentum, which could possibly be until the completion of a new apostolic constitution outlining the structure and duties of the Roman Curia, which is being drafted by the Council of Cardinals.

The dicastery, which replaced separate pontifical councils on the family and on the laity, was established Sept. 1, 2016. It is headed by Prefect Cardinal Kevin Farrell and Secretary Fr. Alexandre Awi Mello, who was appointed in May 2017.

Cardinal Farrell has said, in reference to controversy over Pope Francis’ writings on family life, that “we need to say what our teaching is, and that’s not a yes and no answer.”

According to the statutes, which go into effect May 13, the dicastery has the task of dealing with projects related to the broad topics of the apostolate of the laity, the institution of marriage, and the family within the life of the Church, including the organization of events and the support of theological studies related to these areas.

The dicastery is responsible for the World Meeting of Families and World Youth Day.

It is to promote pastoral care of the family “in the light of the papal Magisterium”, protecting its dignity and wellbeing “based on the sacrament of marriage” and fostering “its rights and responsibility 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.”

The disastery will “discern the signs of the times to value opportunities in favour of the family, take on with trust and evangelical wisdom the challenges that relate to it, and apply in today’s society and in history the plan of God for marriage and the family,” which the statutes link in particular to the World Meeting of Families.

It also “monitors the activity of Catholic institutes, associations, movements and organizations … whose purpose is to serve the good of the family.”

Regarding life issues, it promotes and supports “responsible procreation” and organizations “which help women and families to welcome and cherish life, especially in the case of difficult pregnancies and to prevent abortion.” It also supports organizations which help post-abortive women.

The dicastery supports “the protection of human life from conception to its natural end, bearing in mind the needs of the person in the various stages of evolution.”

It also studies and promotes formation in biomedicine and law based on Catholic moral doctrine and the Magisterium.

Other projects will include formation of engaged and newly married couples, and the promotion of openness to the adoption and fostering of children.

Referencing paragraphs 296-306 of Pope Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation on love in the family, Amoris laetitia, the statutes say the dicastery “expresses the pastoral care of the Church also in relation to so-called ‘irregular’ situations.”

The statutes also make reference to the Second Vatican Council’s constitutions Lumen gentium, on the Church, and Gaudium et spes, on the Church in the modern world.

The Pontifical Academy for Life is also connected to the dicastery, as it relates to issues connected with its competency.

Pope Francis re-founded what was previously the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Sept. 19, 2017, making it a theological institute charged with studying marriage and the family from a scientific perspective.


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