Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

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The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Latin: Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, C.D.F.), formerly known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, from where the names Roman Inquisition or "Holy Inquisition" arose.[note 1] It is informally known in many Catholic countries as the Holy Office (i.e. Santo Oficio) and after 1904 was termed as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office. It is the oldest among the nine congregations of the Roman Curia.

Founded by Pope Paul III in 1542, the congregation's sole objective is to "spread sound Catholic doctrine and defend those points of Christian tradition which seem in danger because of new and unacceptable doctrines".[1] Its headquarters are at the Palace of the Holy Office, just outside Vatican City. The congregation employs an advisory board including cardinals, bishops, priests, lay theologians, and canon lawyers. The current Prefect is Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller.

History[edit]

Astronomer Galileo Galilei presented before the Holy Office, a 19th-century painting by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury

On July 21, 1542, Pope Paul III proclaimed the Apostolic Constitution Licet ab initio, establishing the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, staffed by cardinals and other officials whose task it was "to maintain and defend the integrity of the faith and to examine and proscribe errors and false doctrines". It served as the final court of appeal in trials of heresy and served as an important part of the Counter-Reformation.

This body was renamed the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office in 1904 by Pope Saint Pius X. In many pious Catholic countries, the term is often informally abbreviated as Holy Office (i.e. Santo Oficio).

The Congregation's name was changed to Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on December 7, 1965, at the end of the Second Vatican Council. Soon after the entry into force of the present Code of Canon Law at the end of 1983, the adjective "Sacred" was dropped from the names of all Curial Congregations (it remained in use throughout 1984, as can be seen in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis of that year, but no longer appeared in the 1985 issues of that official bulletin of the Holy See), and so the dicastery adopted its current name, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Timeline[edit]

1542 Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition established "to maintain and defend the integrity of the faith and to examine and proscribe errors and false doctrines".
1622 Pope Gregory XV wrote a letter addressing the issue of priests abusing the confessional to solicit "shameful and dishonorable conduct". The letter is referenced in Sacramentum Poenitentiae (1741).
1665 The General Congregation of the Universal Inquisition, in the presence of Pope Alexander VII, releases an ordinance that "propositions deemed alien and discordant by the Evangelical truth" be "checked, condemned, and prohibited." "The Inquisitors of Heretical Depravity, ..., [should] seek out and proceed against everyone - every priest [...] who has essayed to tempt a penitent." (source: Sacramentum Poenitentiae) .[2]
1908 The Inquisition is renamed Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office by Pope Pius X.
1965 The Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office is renamed Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (SCDF).
1981 Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) is appointed prefect of the Sacred Congregation (November 25).
1985 All dicasteries of the Roman Curia no longer use the adjective "Sacred" as part of their title; hence The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was renamed as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (CDF)
1988 Pope John Paul II reaffirms the authority of the CDF: according to Article 48 of the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Pastor Bonus, promulgated by Pope John Paul II on June 28, 1988: "The proper duty of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is to promote and safeguard the doctrine on faith and morals in the whole Catholic world; so it has competence in things that touch this matter in any way."[3]
2001 Pope John Paul II issues Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela "by which are promulgated Norms concerning the more grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith". It, again, reaffirms the CDF's responsibilities, expressing that it was necessary to define more precisely both "the more grave delicts whether against morals or committed in the celebration of the sacraments" for which the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith remains exclusive, and also the special procedural norms "for declaring or imposing canonical sanctions."[4] On 11 November 2014, Pope Francis set up within the congregation a special body to expedite consideration of appeals by priests against laicization or other penalties imposed on them because of being accused of such delicts.[5]

Role[edit]

According to Article 48 of the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Pastor Bonus, promulgated by Pope John Paul II on June 28, 1988: "The proper duty of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is to promote and safeguard the doctrine on faith and morals in the whole Catholic world; so it has competence in things that touch this matter in any way."[3]

The Palace of the Holy Office, seat of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

This includes investigations into what are known as "delicta graviora"; i.e., the crimes which the Catholic Church considers as being the most serious of all: crimes against the Eucharist and against the sanctity of the Sacrament of Penance, and crimes against the sixth Commandment ("thou shall not commit adultery") committed by a cleric against a person under the age of eighteen. These crimes, in a "motu proprio" of 2001, "Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela", come under the competency of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In effect, it is the "promoter of justice" who deals with, among other things, the question of priests accused of paedophilia.[4][6]

Within the CDF are the International Theological Commission, the Pontifical Biblical Commission and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. The Prefect of the CDF is ex officio president of these commissions.

Organization[edit]

Until 1968, the Pope himself held the title of prefect but never exercised this office. Instead, he appointed one of the cardinals to preside over the meetings, first as Secretary, then as Pro-Prefect.

Since 1968, the Cardinal head of the dicastery has borne the title of Prefect, without further qualification. Therefore, from 1968 onwards, the title of Secretary refers to the second highest-ranking officer of the Congregation. The Congregation has a membership of some 18 other cardinals and a smaller number of non-cardinal bishops, a staff of some 38 priests, religious and lay men and women, and some 26 consultors.[7]

The work of the Congregation is divided into four sections: the doctrinal, disciplinary, matrimonial, and clerical offices. The Congregation holds biennial plenary assemblies, and issues documents on doctrinal, disciplinary and sacramental questions that occasionally include notifications concerning books by Catholic theologians (e.g., Hans Küng, Charles Curran, and Leonardo Boff) that it judges contrary to Church doctrine.[8]

Staff (2012):

On 6 May 2006 Cardinals Antonio Cañizares Llovera and Jean-Pierre Ricard were named members of the Congregation.

Recent canonical judgments and publications[edit]

Heads of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith[edit]

Secretaries[edit]

When the Supreme Sacred Congregation for the Roman and Universal Inquisition was first established in 1542, it was composed of several Cardinal Inquisitors styled as "Inquisitors-General", who were formally equal to each other, even if some of them were clearly dominant (e.g. Cadinal Gian Pietro Carafa from 1542, who was elected Pope Paul IV in 1555). The Pope himself was a prefect of the Congregation until 1965. However, from 1564 the daily administration of the affairs of the Congregation were entrusted to the Cardinal Secretary.[18]

Unless stated otherwise, the secretaryship ended with the relevant man's death.

Pro-Prefect[edit]

On December 7, 1965, along with changing the name of the dicastery, Pope Paul VI changed the title of the head of the Congregation from Secretary to Pro-Prefect, the Roman Pontiff retaining the role of Prefect. Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, who was then Secretary, having been appointed to lead the Holy Office in 1959, continued leading the newly reorganized dicastery without any break in continuity since that date. In spite of that, a few months later, on February 8, 1966, Cardinal Ottaviani was formally confirmed as Pro-Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Prefects[edit]

Since the appointment of Cardinal Franjo Šeper in 1968, the head of the dicastery has been titled Prefect. The Pope no longer holds the office of Prefect of the CDF himself. Although Cardinal Ottaviani had served as Pro-Prefect, upon his retirement he was declared Prefect emeritus of the Congregation, and not Pro-Prefect emeritus. The following Prelates have presided over the Congregation as Prefects since then:

Modern Secretaries of the CDF[edit]

With the reorganization of the Holy Office as the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in December 1965, the head of the Congregation was no longer titled Secretary. The dicastery's second-in-command, until then titled assessor, was then given the title of Secretary, as was already the case with the other Roman Congregations. The following Archbishops have served as the CDF's second-in-command with the title of Secretary:

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The term Holy Inquisition became popularly used in reference to the 16th century tribunals against witchcraft and heresy)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Profile)
  2. ^ "Sacramentum Poenitentiae (with English translation)". Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Apostolic Constitution, June 29, 1988". Vatican. Retrieved 2012-04-11. 
  4. ^ a b "Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela". Vatican. Retrieved 2010-04-16. 
  5. ^ Cindy Wooden, "Pope sets up new body to speed handling of sex abuse appeals", in Catholic News Service, 11 November 2014
  6. ^ "Promoter Of Justice At Doctrine Of Faith On Paedophilia". Avvenire. Retrieved 2010-04-16. 
  7. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2012 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2012 ISBN 978-88-209-8722-0), pp. 1159-1160
  8. ^ Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Complete List of Documents
  9. ^ http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/15/17762930-pope-francis-reiterates-radical-feminist-criticism-of-us-nuns-group
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ Vatican letter directs bishops to keep parish records from Mormons
  12. ^ CNN, Six Arkansas nuns excommunicated for heresy
  13. ^ Pullella, Philip (April 23, 2007). "Gay marriage evil, abortion terrorism: Vatican". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2007-04-26. Retrieved 2007-04-23. 
  14. ^ Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life
  15. ^ "Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons". Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Vatican. Retrieved August 2, 2013. 
  16. ^ Dominus Iesus
  17. ^ "Some considerations concerning the response to legislative proposals on the non-discrimination of homosexual persons". Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Vatican. Retrieved August 2, 2013. 
  18. ^ Thomas F. Mayer: The Roman Inquisition. A Papal Bureaucracy and Its Law in the Age of Galileo. Filadelfia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013, p. 14. ISBN 978-0-8122-4473-1; Christopher Black: The Italian Inquisition. New Haven & Londyn: Yale University Press, 2009, p. 19-26. ISBN 978-0-300-11706-6.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g Christopher Black: The Italian Inquisition. New Haven & Londyn: Yale University Press, 2009, p. 118. ISBN 978-0-300-11706-6.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°54′04″N 12°27′22″E / 41.90111°N 12.45611°E / 41.90111; 12.45611