ROME, August 31, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis has created a new super-dicastery for promoting Integral Human Development and appointed Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana as its Prefect.
The announcement comes only two weeks after the pope announced the formation of another major new department, the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life, with American Bishop Kevin Farrell as its head.
“In all her being and actions, the Church is called to promote the integral development of the human person in the light of the Gospel,” Pope Francis wrote in a moto proprio, or legal decree issued at his own initiative, instituting the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. “This development takes place by attending to the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation.”
This Dicastery will deal with 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,” the pontiff wrote.
The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, and the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers will be merged into the new Dicastery.
Turkson currently heads the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. It will be folded into the new dicastery on January 1, 2017.
In 2015, Turkson raised eyebrows when he suggested to the BBC that “birth control” could be used as a solution to perceived overpopulation and said Pope Francis had previously called for “a certain amount of control of birth.”
He later walked back his statements, saying he regretted using the term “birth control” when what he meant was spacing of births or “responsible parenthood.”
“When I used the phrase ‘birth control,’ what I had in mind was the Church’s own traditional teaching about responsible parenthood,” Turkson said. “So wherever anyone reads ‘birth control’ in the BBC interview, they should understand it as meaning ‘responsible parenthood.’”
Starting Thursday, American Bishop Kevin Farrell will head the newly-formed Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life. The Pontifical Council for the Laity and to the Pontifical Council for the Family will be merged into the new dicastery and then cease to exist.
Farrell has a mixed record on life and family issues. He has been vocal about the need for Catholics to fight abortion. Farrell is a prominent participant in the annual Dallas March for Life and has spoken at its accompanying pro-life rallies.
Under Farrell’s oversight in 2011, the University of Dallas introduced a pastoral ministry degree that some labeled “doctrinally challenged” and a threat to the University’s Catholic identity. Catholics like Dr. Patrick Fagan, a prominent social scientist, expressed concern that this was steering the University of Dallas in an unorthodox direction. Fagan wrote that he was particularly concerned that some of the School of Ministry faculty members appeared to question Church teaching on the all-male priesthood and homosexuality.
Farrell released a video defending the program.
“Let me remind the Catholic people of the diocese that this is my responsibility,” he said. “And I’m the one who has to stand before God to say whether or not this is truly Catholic or not. That is my responsibility. I do not take it lightly.”
The school also faced criticism for inviting Sister Barbara Reid, a Dominican New Testament scholar who labels the all-male Sacrament of Holy Orders oppressive, to deliver a lecture.
In 2009, Farrell used progressive Catholic buzzwords when he cautioned in a commencement address against “dogmatism, closed mindedness, judgmentalism, [and] suspicion of another’s motives.”
Such language is often used against orthodox Catholics who defend the Church’s moral teachings.
In 2008, Farrell appointed as pastor of a newly renovated parish a priest whose involvement with a prominent, pornographic online network for homosexual priests and religious had previously been revealed.
The website at the heart of this controversy was called St. Sebastian’s Angels, and the Diocese of Dallas priest who had been a part of it was Father Arthur Mallinson. In addition to accessing its pornographic images, clergy used St. Sebastian’s Angels to trash Church teaching, Pope St. John Paul II, and then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
The now-inoperative watchdog organization Roman Catholic Faithful, which initially exposed St. Sebastian’s Angels and the various clergy involved with it in 1999, said it alerted all bishops whose diocesan priests were involved with the site. It then went public with the scandalous information.
In May 2008, the Diocese of Dallas acknowledged to LifeSiteNews that St. Sebastian’s Angels contained crude images and words and that Mallinson had been involved with it. Annette Gonzales-Taylor, a diocesan spokesperson, told LifeSiteNews that Mallinson was not supportive of the site’s immoral content. She also said Mallinson had ceased his involvement with St. Sebastian’s Angels in 2001 because of its sinful content.
RCF’s initial report on the site’s pornographic content was published in 1999, meaning Mallinson remained active on the site for more than a year after its pornographic, pro-homosexual content was initially exposed.
RCF’s exposé even caused Cape Town, South Africa Bishop Reginald Cawcutt, who was involved with St. Sebastian’s Angels, to resign in July 2002.
Mallinson resigned on May 13, 2008, after LifeSiteNews and other media outlets reported on the scandal of his promotion to pastor, which prompted outraged laity to contact Farrell to complain.