Sister Alessandra Smerilli, now number two of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, is obviously not a bishop either.
The dicastery is now firmly in the hands of those who have overseen its migrants and refugees section. The section was established by Pope Francis within the dicastery in 2016 and answerable directly to the pope, but it is not even mentioned in Praedicate evangelium.
The dicastery will now be led by Cardinal Michael Czerny, a Jesuit who oversaw the migrants and refugees section. Father Fabio Baggio, who served from 2017 as co-undersecretary of the section, was appointed this month as undersecretary of the dicastery (with responsibility for the migrants and refugees section).
Therefore, the issue of migration is now central to the dicastery, which, under the umbrella of integral human development had brought together four pontifical councils: Justice and Peace, Migrants, Healthcare Workers, and Cor Unum (the dicastery of charity).
This shift was made clear from a statement issued by Czerny when he was named as the dicastery’s interim leader. He said that the dicastery faced numerous pressing challenges in a world that prioritized “the globalization of indifference” over solidarity while trampling on humanity’s common home and the universality of the human family.
The cardinal added that “the good work carried out in the migrants and refugees section of the dicastery offers itself today as a fruitful approach to the challenges just mentioned.”
In the coming months, the heads of other dicasteries are expected to be appointed, which could lead to the departure of several long-serving curial cardinals.
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the 79-year-old president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, will undoubtedly leave. The pontifical council will become part of the new Dicastery for Culture and Education, but the current prefect of the Congregation for Education, Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, is also over 75. There is talk of Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich as a possible candidate for the leadership of the dicastery.
Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, is already over the retirement age limit. So is Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, but he could remain in the role, overseeing the newly named Dicastery for the Eastern Churches.
The new appointments are likely to lead to the creation of new cardinals. And it is not impossible that Pope Francis will do everything in June, as Praedicate evangelium comes into effect, leaving the changes as a legacy for his eventual successor.