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article imagePope extends stamp on Church with new human development ministry

By AFP     Aug 31, 2016 in World

Pope Francis on Wednesday announced the creation of a new Vatican ministry for human development in the latest move by the reforming pontiff to put his personal stamp on the Catholic Church.

The new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development is being established by papal decree and will start work on January 1.

Francis is to retain personal oversight of Vatican policy on migration, an issue dear to his heart.

The new ministry is being created by merging four existing departments dealing with justice, health, development and migrants and itinerant people.

The move is part of Francis's drive to streamline the Vatican bureacracy and put efforts to defend and support the most vulnerable at the heart of the Church's mission.

"This Dicastery will be competent particularly in issues regarding migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture," Francis said in a decree that creates the new ministry with effect from January 1, 2017.

In a statement the Vatican said ministry policy and activities related to migration would be under the direct authority of the pope.

Francis has regularly spoken out in defence of migrants trying to escape poverty, repression and conflict in pursuit of better lives in developed countries.

The new dicastry will be headed by Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, one of the principal authors of Francis's 2016 encyclical "Laudato Si" ("Praise Be").

The letter to believers has been described as one of the most radical documents ever signed by a pope. In it, Francis warns the planet is headed for disaster if it does not address climate change, worsening social injustice and rampant consumerism.

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