Fr. Michael Czerny was appointed to the Vatican's new department for the Promotion of Integral Human Development during Council of Cardinals meeting Dec. 12-14. CNS photo/Dianne Towalski, The Catholic Spirit

Canadian Jesuit appointed to new Vatican department aiding refugees

  • December 19, 2016

VATICAN CITY – Canadian Jesuit Fr. Michael Czerny has been appointed to the Vatican's new department for the Promotion of Integral Human Development.

Czerny and Scalabrinian Fr. Fabio Baggio were named as undersecretaries to the dicastery, which is set to begin its work in January with a primary focus being refugees and migrants.

Born in the former Czechoslovakia and raised in Canada, Father Czerny has served as an official of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace since 2010.

His long career in the field of social justice includes having served as the Canadian director and executive director of the African Jesuit AIDS Network, which he founded, and spending two years in El Salvador to carry out the work of his confreres who were murdered during the civil war there.

Czerny was ordained in 1973 in Canada and earned a doctorate in interdisciplinary studies at the University of Chicago before founding the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Social Justice in Toronto in 1979.

Baggio, 51, is a professor and the director of the Scalabrini International Migration Institute in Rome.

The appointments were made during the meeting of the Council of Cardinals Dec. 12-14, presided over by Pope Francis.

In an interview with America Magazine, Czerny said the new department "touches all the dimensions of human experience” with its mandate to help people who are moving from areas or countries afflicted by war, poverty or ethnic divisions.

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