Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Latin: Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, CDF) is the oldest among the nine congregations of the Roman Curia. It was founded to defend the church from heresy; today, it is the body responsible for promulgating and defending Catholic doctrine. Formerly known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition,[lower-alpha 1] it is informally known in many Catholic countries as the Holy Office and between 1904 and 1965 was officially known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office.
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". 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.
On July 21, 1542, 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 Catholic countries, the body is often informally called the Holy Office (e.g. Italian: Sant'Uffizio and Spanish: Santo Oficio ).
The Congregation's name was changed to Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (SCDF) on December 7, 1965, at the end of the Second Vatican Council. Soon after the 1983 Code of Canon Law came into effect, the adjective Sacred was dropped from the names of all Curial Congregations,[lower-alpha 2] and so the dicastery adopted its current name, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
|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, reiterated that propositions by confessors to solicit or provoke sex from penitents are "alien and discordant by the Evangelical truth and clearly so by the sixth and seventh doctrines of the Holy Fathers" and are to 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."|
|1908||The Inquisition is renamed Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office by 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 is appointed prefect of the SCDF (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 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."|
|2001||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." 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.|
|2015||Francis establishes an ecclesiastical judicial commission, which will have its own staff and Secretary, to try Bishops, which will work with other units of the Congregation and with the respective Bishop's Congregation that normally has oversight over the Bishop – either the Congregation for Bishops (for most bishops of the Latin Church), the Congregation for the Eastern Churches (for most bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches), or the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (for any Catholic bishop in mission territories).|
According to the 1988 Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Pastor Bonus, article 48, promulgated by John Paul II: "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."
This includes investigations into grave delicts; i.e., acts which the Catholic Church considers as being the most serious crimes: 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.[lower-alpha 3]
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.
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.
The work of the CDF is divided into four sections: the doctrinal, disciplinary, matrimonial, and clerical offices. The CDF 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.
- Prefect: Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller
- Secretary: Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, S.J.
- Assistant (Adjunct) Secretary: Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, O.P.
- Undersecretary: Monsignor Giacomo Morandi
- 25 members: Cardinals, Archbishops, Patriarchs and Bishops
- 28 Consultors (Heads of Superior of Religious Orders (both male and female), Canon lawyers
- Staff of 33 lay theologians
Recent canonical judgments and publications
- Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious - (Re-affirmed by Francis on April 15, 2013)
- Note on the banalization of sexuality, Regarding certain interpretations of "Light of the World" (December 22, 2010)
- Circular Letter to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences regarding the association Opus Angelorum (October 2, 2010)
- Dignitas Personae (on bioethical questions, with summary and press conference transcript; September 8, 2008)
- On April 5, 2008, as a result of "grave reservations" by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about the Mormon practice of posthumous rebaptism, Catholic dioceses throughout the world were directed not to give information in parish registers to the Mormons' Genealogical Society of Utah for microfilming or digitizing.
- Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization (with press conference transcript; December 3, 2007)
- On September 28, 2007, Gaston Hebert, the then apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Little Rock stated that (per the July 11 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) 6 Arkansas nuns were excommunicated for heresy (the first in the diocese's 165-year history). They refused to recant the doctrines of the Community of the Lady of All Nations (Army of Mary). The nuns are members of the Good Shepherd Monastery of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge in Hot Springs. Sister Mary Theresa Dionne, 82, one of 6, said they will still live at the convent property, which they own. The sect believes that its 86-year-old founder, Marie Paule Giguere, is the reincarnation of the Virgin Mary.
- Responses to Certain Questions of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration (with commentary; August 1, 2007)
- Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church (June 29, 2007)
- In an April 2007 address to chaplains, Archbishop Amato denounced same-sex marriage and abortion and criticized the Italian media's coverage of them, saying that they are evils "that remain almost invisible" due to media presentation of them as "expression of human progress."
- Notification on the works of the Reverend Father Jon Sobrino, S.J. (with an explanatory note; November 26, 2006)
- Notification regarding the book "Jesus Symbol of God" of the Reverend Father Roger Haight, S.J.
- Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the collaboration of men and women in the Church and in the world (May 31, 2004)
- Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life (with two commentaries from Their Eminences, Cardinals Joachim Meisner and Giacomo Biffi; November 24, 2002), [according to whom?]
- Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons (June 3, 2003)
- Note on the Force of the Doctrinal Decrees Concerning the Thought and Work of the Reverend Father Antonio Rosmini Serbati (July 1, 2001)
- Notification regarding certain writings of the Reverend Father Marciano Vidal, C.Ss.R. (with comments; February 22, 2001)
- Notification on the book Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism by the Reverend Father Jacques Dupuis, S.J. (with commentary; January 24, 2001)
- Notification concerning some writings of Professor Dr. Reinhard Messner (November 30, 2000)
- Ardens felicitatis (instructions on prayers for healing; September 14, 2000)
- Dominus Iesus (Declaration on the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church; with comments from Congregation officials; August 6, 2000)
- Note on the expression "sister churches" (June 30, 2000)
- Documents regarding "The Message of Fatima" (June 26, 2000)
- Notification regarding Sister Jeannine Gramick, SSND, and the Reverend Father Robert Nugent, SDS
- Considerations on The Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the mystery of the Church (October 31, 1998)
- Formula to be used for the profession of faith and for the oath of fidelity to assume an office to be exercised in the name of the Church with the Illustrative doctrinal Note of the conclusive formula of "Professio fidei" (June 29, 1998)
- Notification concerning the writings of the Reverend Father Anthony De Mello, S.J. (June 24, 1998)
- Notification concerning the Text "Mary and Human Liberation" by the Reverend Father Tissa Balasuriya, O.M.I. (January 2, 1997)
- Notification on the writings and activities of Mrs. Vassula Ryden (October 6, 1995)
- Responses to questions proposed concerning uterine isolation and related matters (July 31, 1993)
- Some considerations concerning the response to legislative proposals on the non-discrimination of homosexual persons (July 23, 1992)
- Decree on the doctrine and customs of the Association Opus Angelorum (June 6, 1992)
- Communionis notio (Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on some aspects of the Church understood as Communion; May 28, 1992)
- Instruction on some aspects of the use of the instruments of social communication in promoting the doctrine of the faith- The Second Vatican Council (March 30, 1992)
- Note on the book "The Sexual Creators, An Ethical proposal for Concerned Christians", (University Press of America, Lanham-New York-London 1986), by the Reverend Father André Guindon, O.M.I. (January 31, 1992)
- Donum veritatis (Instruction on the ecclesial vocation of the theologian; May 24, 1990)
- Orationis formas (Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on some aspects of Christian meditation; October 15, 1989)
- Note regarding "The moral rule of Humanae vitae (Pope Paul VI's encyclical, On the Regulation and Control of Human Birth) and the pastoral duty" (February 16, 1989)
- Observation of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) II's "Salvation and the Church" (November 18, 1988)
- Formula to be used for the profession of faith and for the oath of fidelity to assume an office to be exercised in the name of the Church (July 1, 1988)
- Donum vitae (Instruction on respect for life in its origin and on the dignity of procreation; February 22, 1987)
- Homosexualitatis problema (Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons; October 1, 1986)
- Notification on the book Pleidooi voor mensen in de Kerk (Nelissen, Baarn 1985) by the Reverend Father Professor Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P. (September 15, 1986)
- Letter to György Bulányi on certain writings attributed to him (September 1, 1986)
- Letter regarding the suspension of the Reverend Father Professor Charles Curran from the teaching of theology (July 25, 1986)
- Libertatis conscientia (Instruction on human freedom and liberation; March 22, 1986)
- Notification on the book Church: Charism and Power. Essay on militant Ecclesiology by Leonardo Boff, O.F.M. (March 11, 1985)
- Recentiores episcoporum synodi, on some questions of Eschatology (condemnation of "resurrection within death", etc.; May 17, 1979)
- Inter insigniores (Declaration as to the question of admitting women to priesthood; October 15, 1975), contains a proof of tradition for what would later be taught with highest authority by John Paul II (Ordinatio sacerdotalis)
Heads of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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. Cardinal 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.(pp19–26)
Unless stated otherwise, the secretaryship ended with the relevant man's death.
- Antonio Michele Ghisleri (1564–1566; elected as Pope Pius V)(p118)
- Giacomo Savelli (1577–1587)(p118)
- Giulio Antonio Santori (1587–1602)(p118)
- Camillo Borghese (1602–1605; elected as Pope Paul V)(p118)
- Pompeio Arrigoni (1605–1612; resigned, died in 1616)(p118)
- Giovanni Garzia Millini (1612–1629)(p118)
- Antonio Marcello Barberini (1629–1633; resigned; died in 1646)
- Francesco Barberini (1633–1679)
- Cesare Facchinetti (1680–1683)
- Alderano Cybo (1683–1700)
- Galeazzo Marescotti (1700–1716; resigned, died in 1726)
- Fabrizio Spada (1716–1717)
- Nicolò Acciaioli (1717–1719)
- Francesco del Giudice (1719–1725)
- Fabrizio Paolucci (1725–1726)
- Pietro Ottoboni (1726–1740)
- Tommaso Ruffo (1740–1753)
- Neri Maria Corsini (1753–1770)
- Giovanni Francesco Stoppani (1770–1774)
- Luigi Maria Torregiani (1775–1777)
- Carlo Rezzonico (1777–1799)
- Leonardo Antonelli (1800–1811)
- Giulio Maria della Somaglia (1814–1830)
- Bartolomeo Pacca (1830–1844)
- Vincenzo Macchi (1844–1860)
- Costantino Patrizi Naro (1860–1876)
- Prospero Caterini (1876–1881)
- Antonio Maria Panebianco (1882–1883)
- Luigi Bilio, C.R.S.P. (1883–1884)
- Raffaele Monaco La Valletta (1884–1896)
- Lucido Parocchi (1896–1903)
- Serafino Vannutelli (1903–1908) (served until death in 1915 as Regent of Apostolic Penitentiary)
- Mariano Rampolla (1908–1913)
- Domenico Ferrata (January 3, 1914 - October 10, 1914)
- Rafael Merry del Val (October 14, 1914 - February 26, 1930)
- Donato Sbarretti (July 4, 1930 – April 1, 1939)
- Francesco Marchetti-Selvaggiani (April 30, 1939 – January 13, 1951)
- Giuseppe Pizzardo (February 16, 1951 – October 12, 1959)
- Alfredo Ottaviani (November 7, 1959– December 7, 1965, when he was made Pro-Prefect)
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, Ottaviani was formally confirmed as Pro-Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
- Alfredo Ottaviani (December 7, 1965 – January 6, 1968)
Since the appointment of Cardinal Franjo Šeper in 1968, the head of the dicastery has the title of Prefect. The Pope no longer holds the office of Prefect of the CDF himself. Although 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:
- Franjo Šeper (January 8, 1968 - November 25, 1981) (his retirement)
- Joseph Ratzinger (November 25, 1981 - April 2, 2005) (John Paul II's death) - elected Pope Benedict XVI
- William Levada (May 13, 2005 – July 2, 2012) (his retirement)
- Gerhard Ludwig Müller (July 2, 2012 – present)
Modern Secretaries of the CDF
With the December 1965 reorganization of the Holy Office as the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 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:
- Pietro Parente (7 December 1965 to 1967)
- Paul-Pierre Philippe, O.P. (29 June 1967 to 6 March 1973)
- Jean Jérôme Hamer, O.P. (14 June 1973 to 8 April 1984)
- Alberto Bovone (5 April 1984 to 13 June 1995)
- Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B. (13 June 1995 to 10 December 2002)
- Angelo Amato, S.D.B. (19 December 2002 - 9 July 2008)
- Luis Ladaria Ferrer, S.J (9 July 2008–present)
- Index Librorum Prohibitorum
- Archive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
- Jon Sobrino, Basque-Spanish theologian disciplined by the Congregation in 2007
- Ricardo Blázquez Pérez, congregation member since 2015
- From where the names "Roman Inquisition" or "Holy Inquisition" arose, terms later popularly used in reference to the 16th-century tribunals against witchcraft and heresy.
- 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
- The revision of Norms concerning the more grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith currently in force is the revision approved by Benedict XVI in 2010[update].
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Profile)
- Benedict XIV (1741-06-01). "Sacramentum poenitentiae" (PDF). richardsipe.com (in Latin and English). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2010-11-27. Retrieved 2012-07-01. Includes English translation by unknown.
- John Paul II (1988-06-28). "Pastor bonus". vatican.va. Articles 48–55. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
- John Paul II (2001-04-30). "Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela". vatican.va. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- Wooden, Cindy (2014-11-11). "Pope sets up new body to speed handling of sex abuse appeals". catholicnews.com. Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Catholic News Service. Archived from the original on 2015-12-30.
- Povoledo, Elisabetta; Goodstein, Laurie (2015-06-10). "Pope creates tribunal for bishop negligence in child sexual abuse cases". nytimes.com. New York: The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2015-12-29. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- Scicluna, Charles (2010-03-13). "Promoter of justice at Doctrine of Faith on paedophilia" (Interview). Interview with Gianni Cardinale of Avvenire. Vatican City: Vatican Information Service. VIS 20100313 (2070). Translated from "Il «pm» vaticano: «Chiesa rigorosa sulla pedofilia»". Avvenire (in Italian) (Milan, IT: Avvenire Nuova Editoriale Italiana S.p.a.). 2010-03-13.
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. "The norms of the motu proprio 'Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela' (2001): historical introduction". vatican.va. Archived from the original on 2015-12-20. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (2010-05-21). "A brief introduction to the modifications made in the Normae de gravioribus delictis, reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith". vatican.va. Archived from the original on 2015-12-29. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (2010-05-21). "[Norms concerning the more grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith]". vatican.va (2010 rev. ed.). Archived from the original on 2015-12-20. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- Annuario Pontificio 2012 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2012 ISBN 978-88-209-8722-0), pp. 1159-1160
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Complete List of Documents
- Pullella, Philip (2013-04-15). "Pope Francis reiterates 'radical feminist' criticism of US nuns' group". worldnews.nbcnews.com. New York: NBC News Digital. Reuters. Archived from the original on 2013-04-18.
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (2012-04-18). "Doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious". usccb.org. Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Archived from the original on 2015-09-05.
- Vatican letter directs bishops to keep parish records from Mormons
- Hargett, Malea (2007-10-06). "Six Arkansas nuns excommunicated for supporting heresy: women operate Hot Springs day care". arkansas-catholic.org. Little Rock, AR: Arkansas Catholic. Archived from the original on 2015-03-24.
- Pullella, Philip (April 23, 2007). "Gay marriage evil, abortion terrorism: Vatican". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2007-04-26. Retrieved 2007-04-23.
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (2002-11-24). "Doctrinal note on some questions regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life". vatican.va. Archived from the original on 2003-04-07.
- "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.
- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. "Dominus Iesus". vatican.va.
- "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.
- Mayer, Thomas F. (2013). The Roman Inquisition: a papal bureaucracy and its laws in the age of Galileo. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-8122-4473-1.
- Black, Christopher (2009). The Italian Inquisition. New Haven [u.a.]: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-11706-6.
- Official website