, 19 January, 2020 / 10:01 PM
The decision by Pope Francis to transfer four Churches in the region of North Africa from the competence of the Congregation for Bishops to that of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (Propaganda Fide) was informed by the need to provide “more effective pastoral and evangelizing ministry” in the respective circumscriptions, ACI Africa has established.
On Tuesday, January 14, Pope Francis announced the decision to place Algeria’s Ecclesiastical Sees of Alger, Constantine, Oran, and Tunisia’s Tunis, four ecclesiastical circumscriptions within the region of North Africa that have reported to the Congregation for Bishops, under the jurisdiction of the Sacred Congregation responsible for missionary work.
The reason for the transfer of the four Churches, the Secretariat of the Vatican-based Propaganda Fide told ACI Africa Friday, January 17, was in view of providing “a better and more effective pastoral and evangelizing ministry in the Ecclesiastical Constituencies of the North African Region.”
The four Churches have been under the Congregation for Bishops, a department of the Roman Curia that is responsible for the creation of new dioceses, advising the Holy Father on the appointment of new Bishops in non-missionary regions and planning the five-year-intervals visit of Bishops to Rome known as “ad limina” visits.
The four North African Churches will henceforth be under the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, a department of the Roman Curia responsible for missionary work.
By the decision, the Holy Father is expressing the intention to enhance the ministry of evangelization in the affected regions of North Africa so that the person of Jesus Christ is made to influence the people of God in the region.
While the Congregation for Bishops has mandate over dioceses in non-missionary regions such as Europe, Oceania, Latin America, and North America, Propaganda Fide has mandate over missionary jurisdictions in Latin rite Churches.
The Congregation for Bishops was founded in 1588 by Pope Sixtus V as the Congregation for the Erection of Churches and Consistorial Provisions, while the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples was founded in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV as the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fide).
Both Congregations changed to their current names following the publication of Pope St. Paul VI’s Apostolic Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae on Roman Curia reforms.
The 30-member Congregation for Bishops is headed by a Prefect, a position currently held by 75-year-old Marc Cardinal Armand Ouellet of the Society of the Priests of Saint-Sulpice (PSS), with Archbishop Ilson de Jesus Montanari as the Secretary.
The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples is currently made up of 49 members with former Archbishop of Manila in the Philippines, 62-year-old Luis Cardinal Tagle as the Prefect and Tanzanian-born Archbishop Protase Rugambwa the Secretary.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa