Every day we present a short point that helps bring into focus the treasures of the Roman Catholic Church that comprise the great Deposit of Faith.
It is no secret that over the past thirty years fewer and fewer know their Faith and it shows with the declining number of vocations, parish participation and attendance at Holy Mass. We have the new Catechism of the Catholic Church but for the common man, the one brought up on sound bites and instant gratification, it is more of a text book and that in itself prompts them to shy away from such a tome. So what's a loyal Catholic to do in evangelizing to fellow Catholics and understand their Faith? Our answer: go back to basics - to the great Deposit of Faith. We have the Baltimore Catechism which, for unknown and ridiculous reasons, was shelved after Vatican II. We have the Holy Bible but there are so many newer versions that the Douay-Rheims and Confraternity Latin Vulgate in English versions, the ones used for so long as the official Scriptural text authorized by the Church, seem lost in a maze of new interpretations that water down the Word. This is further complicated by the fact there are so few Douay-Rheims editions in circulation though it is available on the net at
DOUAY-RHEIMS BIBLE. We have so many Vatican documents available at the Vatican web site and other excellent Catholic resource sites that detail Doctrine, Dogma and Canon Law. We have the traditions, and the means of grace but how do we consolidate all these sources into one where it is succinct and easy to understand? We have the perfect vehicle. It is called "My Catholic Faith", now out of print, that was compiled by Bishop Louis Laravoire Morrow and published by My Mission House. This work ties in Scriptural references, the Sacraments, Dogmas, Doctrines, Traditions, Church documents, Encyclical and Papal decrees to clearly illustrate the Faith in simple, solid and concise terms that all can understand and put into practice. We will quote from this work while adding in more recent events and persons when applicable since the book was written in the late forties during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII. We also quote from the Catholic Almanac published by Our Sunday Visitor for the Roman Curial offices.
Nothing in Holy Mother Church's teaching has changed and therefore we feel confident that these daily "points of enlightenment" will help more Catholics better understand their faith, especially those who were not blessed with early formation of the faith in the home and their parish school. Regardless of where any Catholic is in his or her journey toward salvation, he or she has to recognize that the Faith they were initiated into at the Sacrament of Baptism is the most precious gift they have been given in life.
THE ROMAN CURIA
The Pontifical Councils
Having covered the nine Sacred Congregations, and the three Tribunals in the Roman Curia, today we continue our four-part series on the Pontifical Councils with the second part this weekend, featuring the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", and the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. These councils or dicasteries oversee different aspects of the life of the Church and her relations with the realities of the world. The concept of Pontifical Councils is relatively new, having been introduced by Pope Paul VI but truly defined by our present Vicar of Christ Pope John Paul II.
- Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
The responsibilities of this council, headed by Vietnam's Bishop Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan as President, are to promote justice and peace throughout the world in fulfillment of the Gospel and the mission of the Church. Bishop Van Thuan, the former Vice-President of this council was named the President on June 24, 1998 replacing Cardinal Roger Etchegaray of France who was appointed President of the Central Committee for the Jubilee of the Holy Year.
It was Pope Paul VI who first established this council on an experimental basis with his Pontifical Commission Iustitia et Pax on January 6, 1967. Because of its success it became a definitive dicastery in 1976 with his Motu Proprio Iustitiam et Pacem in 1976. Its current name, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was given to it on June 28, 1988 with Pope John Paul's Pastor Bonus.
- Pontifical Council "Cor Unum"
This dicastery, headed by Bishop Paul Josef Cordes is responsible for providing information for Catholic aid and human development organizations and coordinating these services and projects on a global scale. Attached to this council are the "John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel" and "Populorum Progressio". This council has been busy in helping the refugees in Africa, especially the Sudan and Rwanda as well as South America and now in East Timor and most recently in Taiwan. This dicastery has published two documents, one on world hunger and the other on refugees.
The origins of this Council began on July 15, 1971 by Paul VI who described it, in a "Lettera Autografa" or hand-written letter, as a dicastery at the level of the universal Church "for human and Christian promotion."
- Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples
This council promotes the pastoral assistance to migrants, refugees, immigrants, nomads, and homeless people as well as tourists and travelers. Headed by Archbishops Giovanni Cheli, the main purpose is to give spiritual comfort to these people in an unfamiliar land and unstable conditions. It works closely with "Cor Unum" in issuing documents such as "Refugees: A Challenge to Solidarity" drawn up in 1992.
This council has its origins from 1952 when Pope Pius XIIestablished both the Superior Council for Emigration and the Work of the Apostleship of the Sea within the Consistorial Congregation, now known as the Congregation for Bishops. Six years later he entrusted this congregation with attending to the spiritual assistance of those faithful who work aboard airplanes, as well as passengers,
through an institution called "Opera dell'Apostolatus Coeli o Aeris." In 1976 Paul VI attached it to the Congregation for the Clergy to assure these groups of people that they would have pastoral guidance and it was given its separate status and title by John Paul II in his Motu Proprio Pastor Bonus on June 28, 1988.
Monday: the Roman Curia: Pontifical Offices part three