ROME (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Wednesday announced major changes to the Vatican bureaucracy, slimming down the number of offices and giving himself direct charge of migration issues, continuing a reform push he promised when elected more than three years ago.
In a document known as a Motu Proprio, Latin for "by his own initiative", the pope said he would merge four Vatican offices into a "Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development" starting on Jan. 1.
When elected in 2013, Francis pledged to cleanse the Church's bureaucracy, which had been rocked by scandals and charges of greed and corruption. He said he wanted "a poor Church" that served the poor.
The pope will oversee work on migration and refugees within the new dicastery, or department, which will absorb the offices for justice and peace, human and Christian development, immigration, and health workers.
- PHOTOS: New art and old relics at Mickey Mouse's NYC gallery 25 Pictures
- PHOTOS: See Yes on 3 supporters react to historic transgender rights Question 3 win 11 Pictures
- PHOTOS: A look back at Queen performing in the 1970s and 1980s 22 Pictures
- All of these celebrities have had their nudes leaked 35 Pictures
- PHOTOS: A look at Idris Elba's style through the years 20 Pictures
- PHOTOS: Heidi Klum's annual Halloween party and other amazing celebrity costumes 17 Pictures
- These are the spookiest cities per capita in the U.S. 5 Pictures
- Food Network star talks pumpkin carving 1 Pictures
- Who is Alexander Edwards, Amber Rose's new boyfriend? 9 Pictures
- Is Cardi B pregnant again? This tweet has people guessing 6 Pictures
- Natural Museum's best wildlife photos of the year 5 Pictures
It will spearhead the Church's humanitarian work internationally, including oversight of funds allocated to charities, focusing on "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 pope wrote.
Francis will "temporarily" take personal charge of migration because "there cannot be a service for integral human development without paying particular attention to the phenomenon of migration."
The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, has often defended refugees and urged Catholic parishes in Europe to host them, with limited success.
In April, after visiting a migrant camp in Greece, the pope brought three families of Syrian refugees back to Rome with him.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)