Dicastery for the Eastern Churches

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Dicastery for the Eastern Churches
Coat of arms of the Holy See

Palazzo dei Convertendi, seat of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches
Dicastery overview
FormedJanuary 6, 1862; 161 years ago (1862-01-06)
Preceding agencies
  • Congregatio de Propaganda Fide pro negotiis ritus orientalis
  • Congregatio pro Ecclesia Orientali
  • Congregation for the Oriental Churches
HeadquartersPalazzo dei Convertendi,
Rome, Italy
Dicastery executives

The Dicastery for the Eastern Churches (also called Dicastery for the Oriental Churches), previously named Congregation for the Oriental Churches[1] or Congregation for the Eastern Churches[2] (Latin: Congregatio pro Ecclesiis Orientalibus), is a dicastery of the Roman Curia responsible for contact with the Eastern Catholic churches for the sake of assisting their development and protecting their rights. It also maintains whole and entire in the one Catholic Church the heritage and canon law of the various Eastern Catholic traditions. It has exclusive authority over the following regions: Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula, Eritrea and northern Ethiopia, southern Albania and Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel (and Palestinian territories), Syria, Jordan and Turkey,[1] and also oversees jurisdictions based in Romania, Southern Italy, Hungary, India and Ukraine.

It was founded by the motu proprio Dei providentis of Pope Benedict XV as the "Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Church" on 1 May 1917.


Patriarchs and major archbishops of the Oriental churches, and the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, are members of this congregation by virtue of the law itself.[3] The consultors and officials are selected to reflect the diversity of rites.[4]


This congregation has authority over:

  • all matters which relate to the Oriental churches referred to the Holy See (structure and organisation of the churches; exercise of the offices of teaching, sanctifying and ruling; status, rights, and obligations of persons), and
  • the ad limina visits of Eastern bishops.[5]

This congregation's authority does not include the exclusive authority of the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith and for the Causes of Saints, of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, and the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, including what pertains to dispensations from a marriage ratum sed non consummatum ('"ratified but not consummated").[note 1] In matters which affect the Eastern as well as the Latin churches, the congregation operates, if the matter is important enough, in consultation with the dicastery that has authority in the matter for the Latin Church.[6] The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem is exempt from the authority of the congregation, being directly subject to the Holy See.[7][failed verification]

The congregation pays special attention to communities of Eastern Catholic faithful who live in the territory of the Latin Church and attends to their spiritual needs by providing visitors and even their own hierarchs, so far as possible and where numbers and circumstances require, in consultation with the congregation competent to establish particular churches in the region.[8]

In regions where the Eastern churches have been dominant from ancient times, apostolic and missionary activity is solely the responsibility of this congregation, even if the above is carried out by Latin Church missionaries.[9]

The congregation collaborates with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in matters that concern relations with non-Catholic Eastern churches and with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in matters within the scope of the latter.[10]


On 6 January 1862, Pope Pius IX established the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide pro negotiis ritus orientalis, a section of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith "for the affairs of the Oriental Rite", with the apostolic constitution Romani Pontifici.[11] Pope Benedict XV declared it independent on 1 May 1917 with the motu proprio Dei providentis and named it the Congregatio pro Ecclesia Orientali (Congregation for the Eastern Church).[12] It was presided over by the pope and a cardinal filled the role of Secretary. There were also councillors, chosen from among the more distinguished clergy and those experienced in issues affecting these churches.[13] Pope Paul VI changed its name by adopting the plural Congregatio pro Ecclesiis Orientalibus (Congregation for Eastern Churches) with the apostolic constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae of 15 August 1967, reflecting the major decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum of the Second Vatican Council.[1] Pope Francis, with his apostolic constitution Praedicate evangelium, which took effect on 5 June 2022, changed its name to the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches.[14]

The current prefect of the dicastery is Claudio Gugerotti.[15] The secretary is Michel Jalakh.[16][circular reference][17] The undersecretary is Flavio Pace.[18] Two are clerics of the Latin Church with Jalakh being a Maronite.


Prefect of Congregation for the Oriental Churches
Claudio Gugerotti
since November 21, 2022
Congregation for the Oriental Churches
StyleHis Excellency
Member ofRoman Curia
Reports toThe Pope
AppointerThe Pope
Term lengthFive years, renewable

From 1917 to 1967, the pope held the title of prefect of the Congregation, which was headed by a cardinal secretary. From then until 2022 it was headed by a cardinal prefect. When Claudio Gugerotti was named to head this Curia office, by then called a dicastery, he was an archbishop.

No. Name From Until Prefect/Appointer
1 Niccolò Marini 1917 1922 Benedict XV
2 Giovanni Tacci Porcelli 1922 1927 Pius XI
3 Luigi Sincero 1927 1936 Pius XI
4 Eugène-Gabriel-
1936 1959 Pius XI
5 Amleto Giovanni
1959 1961 John XXIII
6 Gabriel Acacius Coussa 1961
7 Gustavo Testa 1962 1967 John XXIII
No. Name From Until Appointer
1 Gustavo Testa 15 August 1967 13 January 1968 Paul VI
2 Maximilien
de Furstenberg
15 January 1968 8 February 1973 Paul VI
3 Paul-Pierre Philippe 6 March 1973 27 June 1980 Paul VI
4 Władysław Rubin 27 June 1980 30 October 1985 John Paul II
5 Duraisamy Simon
30 October 1985 24 May 1991 John Paul II
6 Achille Silvestrini 24 May 1991 7 September 2000 John Paul II
7 Ignatius Moussa Daoud 25 November 2000 9 June 2007[19] John Paul II
7 Leonardo Sandri 9 June 2007[19] 21 November 2022[15] Benedict XVI
7 Claudio Gugerotti 21 November 2022[15] Incumbent Francis


  1. ^ This is according to the Ap. Const. Pastor Bonus, Art. 58 §2. However, on 30 August 2011, Pope Benedict XVI amended Pastor Bonus with the motu proprio Quaerit semper, thereby transferring jurisdiction over marriages ratum sed non consummatum from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to a special office at the Tribunal of the Roman Rota. The law obrogated the provision stating the "exclusive competence" of the Congregation for Divine Worship regarding these marriages, for this provision was not expressly abrogated and the office at the Roman Rota now oversees dispensations from such marriages. (Cf. Benedict XVI, MP Quaerit semper, accessed August 8, 2012.)



  1. ^ a b c "Congregation for the Oriental Churches: Profile". vatican.va. Retrieved 2019-06-10.
  2. ^ "Congregation for the Eastern Churches". www.vatican.va. Retrieved 2022-06-08.
  3. ^ Ap. Const. Pastor Bonus, Art. 57 §1
  4. ^ Ap. Const. Pastor Bonus, Art. 57 §2
  5. ^ Ap. Const. Pastor Bonus, Art. 58 §1
  6. ^ Ap. Const. Pastor Bonus, Art. 58 §2
  7. ^ "Exemption". Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-02-18.
  8. ^ Ap. Const. Pastor Bonus, Art. 59
  9. ^ Ap. Const. Pastor Bonus, Art. 60
  10. ^ Ap. Const. Pastor Bonus, Art. 61
  11. ^ Noonan, The Church Visible, pp. 69 & 537.
  12. ^ Norwich, Absolute Monarchs, pg. 426.
  13. ^ Benedict XV, Dei providentis, 2
  14. ^ Pope Francis (19 March 2022). "Praedicate Evangelium, on the Roman Curia and its Service to the Church in the World". Dicastero per la Comunicazione - Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Articles 82–7. Retrieved 21 July 2022.
  15. ^ a b c "Rinunce e nomine (continuazione), 21.11.2022" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 21 November 2022. Retrieved 22 November 2022.
  16. ^ "Michel Jalakh".
  17. ^ "Rinunce e nomine". Holy See Press Office. Retrieved 15 February 2023.
  18. ^ "Rinunce e nomine, 03.02.2020" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 3 February 2020. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  19. ^ a b "Rinunce e nomine, 09.06.2007" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 9 June 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2020.


  • Noonan, James-Charles, Jr. The Church Visible: The Ceremonial Life and Protocol of the Roman Catholic Church (New York: VIKING, 1996). ISBN 0670867454
  • Norwich, John Julius. Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy (New York: Random House, 2011).

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