Roman Curia restructured

Pope Benedict XVI has made his first major changes in the organisation of the Roman Curia, with two mergers of existing pontifical councils.

The Pontifical Council for Migrants and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace have been temporarily merged into one unit, to be headed by Cardinal Renato Martino, who had been heading the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Catholic World News reports.

The Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue has also been temporarily merged with the Pontifical Council for Culture, with Cardinal Paul Poupard, the current head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, to head the combined effort.

With the mergers, two top positions in the Roman Curia are eliminated. Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, who had been president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants.

Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, who had been president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, had already received a new assignment in February as apostolic nuncio to Egypt.

Cardinal Martino has been outspoken on political issues since becoming president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 2002, often rousing controversy with his public statements. The Italian cardinal had previously served for 15 years as the Holy See's permanent observer at the UN.

Cardinal Poupard has served for an extraordinary term of over 25 years in essentially the same Vatican post. The French prelate was named president of what was then the Pontifical Council for Non-Believers in 1980. In 1988 that office was replaced by the Pontifical Council for Culture, with Cardinal Poupard still at the helm. The latest announcement from the Vatican indicates that in Pope Benedict's view, dialogue with non-Christian faiths is an important aspect of the Church's interaction with cultural leaders.

Vatican observers expect more restructuring to the Roman Curia under Pope Benedict XVI.

Reorganization begins in Roman Curia (Catholic World News 11/3/06)

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Roman Curia
Roman Curia (catholic-hierarchy.org)

Pope begins Vatican Curia shake-up (CathNews 16/2/06)
Age of Vatican officials fuels talk of Curia overhaul (CathNews 31/8/05)

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13 Mar 2006