Congregation for Catholic Education

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The Congregation for Catholic Education (in Seminaries and Institutes of Study) (Congregatio de Institutione Catholica (de Seminariis atque Studiorum Institutis)) is the Pontifical congregation of the Roman Curia responsible for: (1) houses of formation of religious and secular institutes; (2) universities, faculties, institutes and higher schools of study, either ecclesial or civil dependent on ecclesial persons; and (3) schools and educational institutes depending on ecclesiastical authorities.

Until Friday, January 25, 2013, it was in charge of regulating seminaries, which prepare those students intending to become priests (seminarians) for ordination to the presbyterate. However, that day, Pope Benedict XVI issued an Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio (done on his own initiative), in which oversight of seminaries- and all other related formation programs for clergy (priests and deacons)- are to be transferred from the Congregation for Catholic Education to the Congregation for the Clergy, which regulates already-ordained deacons and priests. The Congregation for Catholic Education will still regulate other education for clergy and religious not relating to ordination or done after it, and it will still regulate non-seminary programs of study and have administrative oversight of pontifical universities, faculties, and institutes (even if some of these institutions are now involved in priestly formation), and oversight of Catholic education in general religious education programs. It already works closely with the Clergy Congregation.[1]


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. Pope Leo XII, in 1824, 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 (in Seminaries and Institutes of Study)" derives from Pope John Paul II's 1988 apostolic constitution entitled Pastor Bonus. The congregation conducts apostolic visits to Catholic institutions and receives bishops during their quinquennial visits ad limina apostolorum, nominates rectors and erects seminaries.

The current Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (since March 31, 2015) is Giuseppe Versaldi. The current Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education (since November 9, 2012) is Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani. Father Friedrich Bechina, FSO, is the current Undersecretary.[2] Cardinal Grocholewski is also the Cardinal President of the formally affiliated agency the Pontifical Work for Ecclesiastical Vocations.

To fulfill its mission, this Congregation has four Offices or Departments:

  • The Office for Seminaries;
  • The Office for Universities, which has a newly established section, the Department for International Organizations;
  • The Office for Schools;
  • The affiliated Office for Pontifical Work for Ecclesiastical Vocations.

Significant Papal Documents pertaining to the Mission of the Congregation for Catholic Education

  • The Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae of John Paul II (15 August 1990) - on the identity and mission of Catholic Universities, and on General Norms concerning Catholic Higher Education institutions.[3]
  • The Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana of John Paul II (29 April 1979)- on General and Special Norms concerning Ecclesiastical Faculties.[4]

Prefects since 1915[edit]

Secretaries since 1913[edit]


Documents published by the Congregation for Catholic Education[edit]

External links[edit]