Congregation for Catholic Education
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of the Catholic Church
The Congregation for Catholic Education (Institutes of Study) (Latin: Congregatio de Institutione Catholica (Studiorum Institutis)) is the Pontifical congregation of the Roman Curia responsible for: (1) universities, faculties, institutes and higher schools of study, either ecclesial or non-ecclesiastical dependent on ecclesial persons; and (2) schools and educational institutes depending on ecclesiastical authorities.
It was also in charge of regulating seminaries, which prepare those students intending to become priests (seminarians) for ordination to the presbyterate, until 16 January 2013 when Pope Benedict XVI transferred the oversight of seminaries and all other related formation programs for priests and deacons from this Dicastery to the Congregation for the Clergy, which regulates deacons and priests generally, not only their education. The Congregation for Catholic Education retains responsibility for matters pertaining to the structure of seminary curricula in philosophy and theology, in consultation with the Congregation for the Clergy.
- 1 History
- 2 Offices
- 3 Competences on Ecclesiastical Higher Education Institutions
- 4 National Qualifications Framework of the Ecclesiastical Higher Education System of the Holy See
- 5 Prefects since 1915
- 6 References
- 7 Documents published by the Congregation for Catholic Education
- 8 External links
Pope Sixtus V created the forerunner of the Congregation in 1588 with the Constitution Immensa, to oversee the University of Rome La Sapienza and other notable universities of the time, including Bologna, Paris, and Salamanca. In 1824 Pope Leo XII created the Congregatio studiorum for educational institutions in the Papal States, which in 1870 began to oversee Catholic universities. Pope Saint Pius X confirmed this responsibility in 1908 and Pope Benedict XV erected in 1915 the section for seminaries (which existed within the Consistorial Congregation), joined to it the Congregatio studiorum, and called it Congregatio de Seminariis et Studiorum Universitatibus. In 1967, Pope Paul VI renamed it Sacra Congregatio pro institutione Catholica. The present name "Congregation for Catholic Education (Institutes of Study)" derives from Pope John Paul II's 1988 Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus.
The current Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (since 13 March 2015) is Giuseppe Versaldi. The current Secretary (since 9 November 2012) is Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani. Father Friedrich Bechina, FSO, is the current Undersecretary.
To fulfill its mission, this Congregation has two Offices:
1. The Office for Universities (Higher Education) with the sub-section Department for International Organizations (Dipartimento per gli Organismi Internazionali or DOI). This Office has competence over:
- Ecclesiastical, which are governed by Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana (29 April 1979), and which are tasked "to explore more profoundly the various areas of the sacred disciplines," for example Theology, Ecclesiastical Philosophy, and Canon Law, "so that day by day a deeper understanding of sacred revelation will be developed" (Sapientia christiana, Preamble, III); and
- Non-ecclesiastical offerings in secular sciences that are dependent on ecclesiastical persons, which are governed by John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae (15 August 1990) as well as by the pertinent civil laws of countries in which they are located.
2. The Office for Schools.
Competences on Ecclesiastical Higher Education Institutions
The Congregation conducts apostolic visits to Catholic institutions and receives bishops during their quinquennial visits ad limina apostolorum, in order to discuss with local Ordinaries concerns pertaining to Catholic Education in their areas of responsibility.
The Congregation for Catholic Education "erects or approves ecclesiastical universities and institutions, ratifies their statutes, exercises the highest supervision over them, and ensures that the integrity of the Catholic faith is preserved in teaching doctrine." Corollary to this, the Dicastery nominates or confirms highest personal academic authorities of Ecclesiastical higher Education institutions, i.e., rectors, presidents and deans. Names of confirmed and appointed rectors, presidents and deans of Institutions belonging to the Higher Education System of the Holy See appear in the Annuario Pontificio at the section on Istituti di Studi Superiori. These are updated yearly.
To this Dicastery belongs also the final authority for the nomination of teachers of ecclesiastical learning institutions to the permanent status and to the highest rank of Ordinaries of the various cathedrae of ecclesiastical disciplines, through the issuance of the rescript granting the nihil obstat for such promotion, on behalf of the Holy See.
Academic collaboration (for the purpose of obtaining the authority to grant canonical degrees in the name of the Holy See) between Ecclesiastical Higher Education institutions that do not have the juridical status as autonomous Ecclesiastical Faculties (i.e., Affiliated, Aggregated, and Incorporated Institutes) and autonomous Ecclesiastical Faculties have to be approved by this Dicastery.
The programmes and other conditions required of Higher Learning Institutions belonging the Higher Education System of the Holy See are regulated by the Apostolic Constitutions Sapientia christiana, and other pertinent normative documents of the Dicastery, such as:
1. Decree of the Congregation for Catholic Education revising the order of studies in the Faculties and Departments of Canon Law (2 September 2002);
2. The Reform of the Higher Institutes of Religious Sciences (28 June 2008), which gives the appropriate norms regarding the pathway of the study of Philosophy and Theology for those who are not preparing to receive the Holy Orders, i.e., for the lay and religious;
3. The Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies of Philosophy (28 January 2011), which outlines the current requirements of Ecclesiastical Studies of Philosophy and of the philosophical formation that forms integral part of the Cycle I of Catholic Theology;
4. The normative documents for affiliations, aggregations and incorporations.
National Qualifications Framework of the Ecclesiastical Higher Education System of the Holy See
The Holy See is signatory to various international and regional agreements in recognition of diplomas and degrees in the field of Higher Education, such as the Lisbon Convention and the Asia-Pacific Regional Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education (2011). As part of the process of implementing these international accords, the Congregation for Catholic Education has followed international guidelines, such as those recommended by the Bologna Process, in order to make transparent its Higher Education System. Among the instruments of this process is the National Qualifications Framework, to which all institutions belonging to the System must conform in order to legitimately and validly grant canonical degrees.
Prefects since 1915
- Gaetano Bisleti (1915-1937)
- Giuseppe Pizzardo (1939-1968)
- Gabriel-Marie Garrone (1968-1980)
- William Wakefield Baum (1980-1990)
- Pio Laghi (pro-prefect 1990-1991, prefect 1991-1999)
- Zenon Grocholewski (1999-2015)
- Giuseppe Versaldi (2015- )
Secretaries since 1913
- Giacomo Sinibaldi (15 May 1913 – 1928)
- Ernesto Ruffini (28 October 1928 – 11 October 1945)
- Giuseppe Rossino (1945 – 31 December 1949)
- Archbishop Carlo Confalonieri (25 January 1950 – 15 December 1958)
- Archbishop Dino Staffa (18 December 1958 – 7 April 1967)
- Archbishop Joseph Schröffer (17 May 1967 – 20 May 1976)
- Archbishop Antonio María Javierre Ortas, S.D.B. (20 May 1976 – 26 May 1988)
- Archbishop José Saraiva Martins, C.M.F. (26 May 1988 – 30 May 1998)
- Giuseppe Pittau, S.J. (11 July 1998 – 25 November 2003)
- John Michael Miller, C.S.B. (25 November 2003 – 1 June 2007)
- Jean-Louis Bruguès, O.P. (10 November 2007 – 26 June 2012)
- Angelo Vincenzo Zani (9 November 2012 –)
- Apostolic Letter (Motu proprio) Ministrorum institutio
- Apostolic Letter (Motu proprio) Ministrorum institutio
- Rinunce e nomine, 31.03.2015 (B0230)
- The Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana
- The Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae
- Apostolic constitution Pastor Bonus, Art. 116 § 2.
- The Rector and the President are named, or at least confirmed, by the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education. Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana, Art. 18.
- The academic authorities are personal and collegial. Personal authorities are, in the first place, the Rector or President and the Dean. Apostolic Constitution Sapientia chrisitana, Art. 15.
- All teachers, before they are given a permanent post or before they are promoted to the highest category of teacher, or else in both cases, as the Statutes are to state, must receive a declaration of nihil obstat from the Holy See. Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana, Art. 27, n.2.
- Affiliation is an academic collaboration for the granting of Cycle I or Baccalaureate degree. The conditions for affiliation regard, above all, the number and qualification of teachers, the study program, the library, and the duty of the affiliating Faculty to help the institution being affiliated. Therefore, this is usually granted only when the affiliating Faculty and the affiliated institution are in the same country or cultural region. Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana, Ordinationes, Art. 47.
- Aggregation is the linking with a Faculty of some Institute which embraces only the first and second cycle, for the purpose of granting the degrees corresponding to those cycles through the Faculty. Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana, Ordinationes, Art. 48, n. 1.
- Incorporation is the insertion into a Faculty of some Institute which embraces either the second or third cycle or both, for the purpose of granting the corresponding degrees through the Faculty. Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana, Ordinationes, Art. 48, n. 2.
- The necessary prerequisites are...: permanently engaged teachers who in number and quality respond to the nature and demands of a Faculty; a suitable number of students; a library with scientific apparatus and suitable buildings; economic means really sufficient for a University or Faculty; the Statutes, together with the Study Program, be exhibited, which are in conformity to the Constitution and to [its] Norms of Application. Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana, Ordinationes, Art. 45, n. 1b-c.
- Decree of the Congregation for Catholic Education revising the order of studies in the Faculties and Departments of Canon Law(2 September 2002)
- The Reform of the Higher Institutes of Religious Sciences(28 June 2008)
- The Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies of Philosophy(28 January 2011)
- Documents of the Congregation for Catholic Education
- Asia-Pacific Regional Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education (2011)
- Quadro Nazionale delle Qualifiche della Santa Sede
Documents published by the Congregation for Catholic Education
- Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies of Philosophy (2011)
- Guidelines on the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood (2008)
- Reform of the Higher Institutes of Religious Sciences (2008)
- Educating Together in Catholic Schools. A Shared Mission between Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful (2007)
- Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders (2005)
The complete list of documents pertaining to Catholic Education can be accessed at this link.
- Webpage of the Congregation for Catholic Education at the Vatican website
- Website of the Higher Education System of the Catholic Church