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On April 25, 2023, Pope Francis appointed more than 30 new members and consultants to the Dicastery for Evangelization’s first section, which focuses on the fundamental issues regarding sharing the Good News of the Gospel — evangelization — around the world. These new members, religious and lay, come from across the globe and represent different ecclesial realities.
The Pontiff also appointed a new undersecretary to the second section of the Dicastery, which focuses on “the first evangelization and new and particular churches,” that is to say, places where the Church is being established for the first time.
The Dicastery for Evangelization was created on June 5, 2022, which is when Pope Francis’ newly promulgated Apostolic Constitution, Praedicate Evangelium (“preach the Gospel”), came into force. This Constitution reorganized the administrative bodies of the Church, the Roman Curia, with evangelization as a central theme. In fact, Pope Francis placed the pontiff himself as the head of the Dicastery for Evangelization.
This Vatican entity was created out of the combination of two former bodies: the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.
The Dicastery for Evangelization is divided into two sections, representing these previously existing bodies. Each section has its own set of members and consultants, which help fulfill the distinct missions and objectives.
The new members: cardinals, representatives of new ecclesial communities, a former Minister of Justice and more
The first section, inherited from the Pontifical Council, is titled “section for fundamental questions regarding evangelization in the world” and focuses on promoting evangelization in countries with a historical Christian tradition, but which today may be affected by declining numbers of faithful. It is headed by a pro-prefect: Italian Archbishop Rino Fischella.
On Tuesday, Pope Francis appointed 19 new members to the section, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. The members of a dicastery participate in the plenary or ordinary assemblies of the body, and thus contribute to establishing its guidelines and activities.
Of the new members, 10 are cardinals, with notable names such as Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who is already pro-prefect of the second section of the Dicastery for Evangelization, and American Cardinal Kevin Farrell, who is Prefect for the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life.
There are also three bishops, including Leo William Cushley of St. Andrews and Edinburgh (United Kingdom) and the Italian Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches. Additionally, a vicar from the Diocese of Paterson (New Jersey), Eugene Robert Sylva, was also nominated to the Dicastery.
Lastly the new members include also a sister, Maria Eliane Azevedo da Silva, the Superior General of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and four lay people.
The laity are Italian journalist Paolo Ruffini, Prefect for the Dicastery of Communication; Moysés Louro de Azevedo Filho, the Brazilian founder of the Shalom Catholic Community; María Ascensión Romero Antón, a Spanish woman and member of the international leadership team of the Neocatechumenal Way; and Marta Maria Cartabia, a former Italian Minister of Justice.
The new consultants: the founder of FOCUS, the rector of the Knock Shrine and more
On April 25, Pope Francis also nominated 15 new consultants to the Dicastery of Evangelization. These experts, often academics, can be called on by the section’s leadership to work on specific topics.
Among the notable names are Curtis Martin, American Founder and CEO of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students); Irish Father Richard Gibbons, rector of the International Sanctuary of Knock, Ireland’s famous Marian apparition; Spanish Father Fernando Ocáriz Braña, prelate of Opus Dei; and Italian Father Marco Frisina, a composer, priest and head of the musical chapel of the Papal Basilica St. John Lateran in Rome.
A new undersecretary for the second section
The second section, which continues the work of the former Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, dedicates itself to “the first evangelization and new and particular churches,” or what were historically seen as mission territories.
This part of the Dicastery focuses mainly on evangelization in Africa, Asia, and some dioceses in South America. It is headed by Cardinal Tagle, a pro-prefect. The former Archbishop of Manila will now be assisted by a new undersecretary, Msgr. Samuele Sangalli, an Italian priest who was previously an official in the same section.
All these appointments are valid for five years, renewable once, as regulated in the new constitution.