The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development was created on August 17, 2016 from the union of four Pontifical Councils, according to the wishes that our Holy Father Pope Francis expressed in his Apostolic Letter, under the form of a Motu Proprio, Humanam Progressionem.
The four Councils are the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum and the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.
The new Dicastery is called to express the Church’s solicitude in the fields of justice, peace, the safeguarding of all of Creation, as well as in those that concern health and works of charity.
Some historical facts concerning the four Pontifical Councils that merged to form the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development follow.
Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. This Council particularly worked to boost and disseminate the Social Doctrine of the Church, especially as far as employment is concerned. It gathered news and results of studies regarding justice and peace, the progress of peoples and the violation of human rights. It favored the collaboration with all the other organs and associations dedicated, even outside the circle of the Church, to promoting justice and peace and safeguarding human rights, particularly the right to religious freedom. It worked to raise the awareness of peoples in favor of peace, especially on the occasion of the “World Day of Peace”, and in favor of protecting all of Creation, on the occasion of the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” launched by Pope Francis on September 1, 2015. Finally, this Pontifical Council offered its assistance to all the sectors of the Church, such as the Episcopal Conferences and, through these and with their consent, the organs created for the study of issues connected to the mission of the Dicastery, which was also entrusted with the San Matteo Foundation (now called the Justice and Peace Foundation).
Pontifical Council Cor Unum. It was established by Pope Paul VI, and was particularly dedicated to human and Christian promotion. The Pontifical Council’s main goals were: to promote the catechesis and charity and to encourage the faithful to bear witness to evangelical charity; to favor and coordinate initiatives of Catholic institutions that deal with helping peoples in need; to closely follow and promote the projects and works of charity in favor of human progress; to serve particular Churches, acting as a mediator with the Catholic Organizations of aid and assistance and favoring a more and more equitable distribution of aid; to oversee ecumenical relations, dealing with separate brothers and sisters also in view of a common aid so that peoples may benefit from the reciprocal initiatives of charity; to facilitate relations between Catholic organizations and international public entities that operate in the same field of assistance and progress. This Dicastery was entrusted with the Foundations John Paul II for the Sahel and Populorum Progressio. Finally, with the Motu Proprio Intima Ecclesiae Natura dated November 11, 2012, Cor Unum also became competent for the canonical establishment of charitable agencies at the international level (Art. 15.2).
Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. With the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus by John Paul II, on June 28, 1988, the Pontifical Commission de Spirituali Migratorum atque Ininerantium Cura was promoted to Pontifical Council. This organism inherited the tasks of the Higher Council for Emigration and that of the General International Secretariat of the Apostolatus Maris, established in 1952 by Pius XII in the Consistorial Congregation, but also the “Apostolatus Coeli o Aëris” (founded in 1958 for the spiritual assistance of the faithful who have specific tasks or carry out their activities on board planes, as well as the passengers who travel with these means of transportation and all personnel who work in airports). The International Secretariat for the Direction of the Apostolatus Nomadum (instituted in 1965 with the aim of “bringing spiritual comfort to a population that does not have a fixed abode or to those living in similar conditions”) and an Office, created in 1967 at the Congregation of the Clergy, to guarantee religious assistance to all those somehow involved with tourism. The intuition to establish a unitary and central organism to assist migrants of every nationality and, in general, those involved in human mobility, date back to the Blessed Bishop Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, who presented the project to Saint Pius X in a letter dated July 22, 1904 and, more precisely, in a biographical memoir of May 4, 1905.
Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers. It was established by John Paul II with the Motu Proprio Dolentium Hominum of February 11, 1985, as a Commission, with the task of: encouraging and promoting the works of formation, study and action carried out by the various International Catholic Organizations (I.C.O.) in the health care field, as well as by other groups, associations and offices which, at various levels and in different ways, operate in this sector; coordinating the activities carried out by the various Dicasteries of the Roman Curia in relation to the health care sector and its problems; promoting, explaining and defending the teachings of the Church in the field of health care, and to encourage its use in health care practice; keeping contacts with the local Churches and, in particular, with the Episcopal Commissions as regards the field of health; attentively following and studying concrete programs and initiatives on health policies, both at the national and international levels, in order to acquire their importance and the implications for the pastoral works of the Church. With the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus on the Roman Curia – June 28, 1988 - the Pontifical Commission changed its denomination into Pontifical Council. Its goals listed in Pope John Paul II’s Motu Proprio, Dolentium Hominum, with which the Commission was established, were summed up in Arts. 152 and 153 of the afore-mentioned Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus.