October 22, 2015 / 10:25 PM / 2 years ago

Pope continues reform of Vatican bureaucracy with new department

Pope Francis blesses the faithful during his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican October 21, 2015.Alessandro Bianchi

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Thursday announced a new Vatican department on life and family issues, in his latest effort to streamline the central administration of the 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic Church.

It will incorporate three existing departments into one - the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Academy for Life.

The pope announced his decision to participants at a meeting of bishops from around the world who are discussing family issues. The gathering, known a synod, ends on Sunday.

Since his election in 2013, Francis has established an new office to oversee all economic affairs and set up a commission to study the streamlining of all of the Vatican communications departments.

Reform of the Vatican bureaucracy, known as the curia, and which many see as bloated and outdated, was one of the mandates given to the pope by the cardinals who elected him.

Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Tom Brown

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