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A pontifical council was a mid-sized department or dicastery of the Roman Curia, the central organization responsible for assisting the Pope in the governance and oversight of the Catholic Church. Such a council had a cardinal or archbishop as its president and was restricted in its activities in comparison with the larger parts of the Curia.
The former pontifical councils were:
Pope Francis has undertaken a reorganization of the Roman Curia that has eliminated several councils by incorporating their activities into parts of the curia with broader responsibilities. On 29 June 2016, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, which was created on 30 January 1948, was assumed by the Secretariat for Communications. On 1 September 2016, the Pontifical Council for the Family, established 9 May 1981, and the Pontifical Council for the Laity, established 6 January 1967, were assumed by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life. On 1 January 2017, these four pontifical councils were assumed by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.