Profession of faith (Catholic Church)

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The Catholic Church requires people to make a personal profession of faith according to a prescribed formula, when taking up certain posts in its service or when becoming Catholics.

Persons taking up certain responsibilities[edit]

A public profession of faith in accordance with a formula approved by the Holy See is required of[1]

  1. Participants in a council or synod
  2. Cardinals
  3. Bishops and those equivalent to them in canon law
  4. Diocesan administrators
  5. Vicars general, episcopal vicars, and judicial vicars
  6. Parish priests, seminary rectors and teachers of theology and philosophy, those about to be ordained deacons
  7. Rectors of ecclesiastical or Catholic universities and teachers of Catholic theology in any university
  8. Superiors of clerical religious institutes and societies of apostolic life

Those listed under numbers 5 to 8 also take an oath of fidelity on assuming the office they are to exercise in the name of the Church.

Under the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which was superseded in 1973 by a revised text, the obligation also fell on those who were appointed as[2]

  1. Canons
  2. Diocesan consultors
  3. All professors at a canonically erected university and those gaining academic degrees in them

The approved formula now in use for the profession of faith and the accompanying oath of fidelity are given, together with a commentary, on the website of the Holy See.[3]

The prescribed profession of faith begins with the statement, "I, N., with firm faith believe and profess each and everything that is contained in the Symbol of faith, namely", followed by the words of the Nicene Creed. It then continues with three more paragraphs:

With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.

I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.

Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.

Tridentine Creed[edit]

The earliest formula prescribed in this way for use by classes of people as a profession on faith on certain occasions was the Tridentine Profession of Faith contained in the papal bull Iniunctum nobis of 13 November 1564 issued by Pope Pius IV.[4][5] The original name of this formula was Forma professionis fidei Catholicae, or orthodoxae fidei (Formula of profession of the Catholic faith, or of the orthodox faith) and it expressed the teachings enunciated by the Council of Trent (1545-1563) in response to those of Protestantism.[5]

Websites of Traditional Catholic tendency generally describe this profession of faith as a Creed classified together with the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed.[6][7][8] (They also often give 1565 as the year in which the bull of Pius IV was issued.)[7]

This formula was modified in the late 19th century by the addition of clauses regarding the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and papal infallibility.[5]

Persons becoming Catholics[edit]

The rite of reception of baptized Christians into the Communion of the Catholic Church states that "one who was born and baptized outside the visible communion of the Catholic Church is not required to make an abjuration of heresy [publicly] but simply a profession of faith.[9] Today, normally, an abjuration of heresy is made in the privacy of the confessional, though in the past it was often a public matter. After joining with the congregation in reciting the Nicene Creed, the person being received into the Catholic Church makes the following profession of faith:

I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.[10]

As indicated in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, adults joining the Catholic Church were formerly asked to abjure the previous faith to which they belonged ("Hebrew superstititon", the Islamic "sect of the infidel", or "the heretical errors of the evil sect" from which they came). The profession of faith used was the Tridentine Profession of Faith.[11]

See also[edit]