Apostolic Dataria

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The Apostolic Datary (Latin: Dataria Apostolica) was one of the five Ufficii di Curia ("Offices of the Curia") in the Roman Curia of the Roman Catholic Church. It was instituted no later than the 14th AD. Pope Paul VI abolished it in 1967.

The Roman Curia comprises the administrative institutions of the Holy See and the central body through which the affairs of the Catholic Church are conducted. It acts in the Pope’s name and with his authority for the good and for the service of the particular Churches and provides the central organization for the Church to advance its objectives.

Pope Paul VI Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 1963 to 1978

Pope Paul VI was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 21 June 1963 to his death in 1978. Succeeding John XXIII, he continued the Second Vatican Council which he closed in 1965, implementing its numerous reforms, and fostered improved ecumenical relations with Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches, which resulted in many historic meetings and agreements. Montini served in the Holy See's Secretariat of State from 1922 to 1954. While in the Secretariat of State, Montini and Domenico Tardini were considered as the closest and most influential advisors of Pius XII, who in 1954 named him Archbishop of Milan, the largest Italian diocese. Montini later became the Secretary of the Italian Bishops' Conference. John XXIII elevated him to the College of Cardinals in 1958, and after the death of John XXIII, Montini was considered one of his most likely successors.



According to the De officio et jurisdictione datarii necnon de stylo Datariae of Amydenus and other authorities, the Dataria Apostolica was of very ancient origin, but the previous transaction by other offices of the business that was gradually assigned to it contradicts these authorities. The Dataria was principally entrusted with concession of matrimonial dispensations of external jurisdiction and with collation, i. e., conferral, of benefices and rescripts that were reserved to the Apostolic See. To this double faculty was later added the third of granting many other indults and favors. Until the pontificate of Pope Pius IV, matrimonial dispensations were granted through the Apostolic Penitentiaria. Regarding the authority of collation of reserved benefices, it could not have been granted in ancient times because the institution of those reservations is comparatively recent: although some vestige of the reservations is found prior to the twelfth century, the custom was not frequent before Pope Innocent II, and the reservation of benefices was instituted as a general rule (De pract. et dignit., 3, 4, c. 2 (6°)) only from the pontificate of Pope Clement IV. While the office certainly existed in the fourteenth century, and as an independent one, the date of its institution is unknown.

A benefice or living is a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services. The Roman Empire used the Latin term beneficium as a benefit to an individual from the Empire for services rendered. Its use was adopted by the Western Church in the Carolingian Era as a benefit bestowed by the crown or church officials. A benefice specifically from a church is called a precaria such as a stipend and one from a monarch or nobleman is usually called a fief. A benefice is distinct from an allod, in that an allod is property owned outright, not bestowed by a higher authority.

In legal terminology, a rescript is a document that is issued not on the initiative of the author, but in response to a specific demand made by its addressee. It does not apply to more general legislation.

An indult in Catholic canon law is a permission, or privilege, granted by the competent church authority – the Holy See or the diocesan bishop, as the case may be – for an exception from a particular norm of church law in an individual case, for example, members of the consecrated life seeking to be dispensed from their religious vows, or of priests and deacons who voluntarily seek to return to the lay state. An apostolic indult is needed from the local ordinary for presbyteral or diaconal ordinations done within a year before the normal date; if the ordination is done more than one year in advance of the normal date then a papal apostolic indult from the Holy See is also needed.


The Dataria consisted first of a cardinal as its principal who was titled the "Pro-Datary" ("Prodatarius") until Sapienti Consilio of Pope Pius X, and thereafter was titled "Datarius" ("Datary"). There was formerly as much discussion of the title of "pro-datary" as of that of "vice chancellor" of the Apostolic Chancery: some contend that the title is derived from the fact that the office dated the rescripts of the Supreme Pontiff, while others that it is derived from the right to grant (dare) the indults and rescripts for which petition was made to the Supreme Pontiff. It is certain that, on account of these faculties, the Datary enjoyed great prestige during the flourishing of the office, when he was denominated the "Oculus Papae" ("Eye of the Pope"). After the Cardinal Datary came the "Subdatary" ("Subdatarius"), a prelate of the Roman Curia who assisted the Datary and assumed almost all of the faculties of the Datary as his substitute on occasion. After the Subdatary came a number of subordinate officials who, as De Luca stated, had enigmatical and sibyllic titles, e. g. the "Prefect of the Per Obitum", "Prefect of the Concessum", "Cashier of the Componenda", and "Officer of the Missis".

Pope Pius X Catholic Pope and saint

Pope Pius X, born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, was head of the Roman Catholic Church from August 1903 to his death in 1914. Pius X is known for vigorously opposing modernist interpretations of Catholic doctrine, promoting liturgical reforms and orthodox theology. He directed the production of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the first comprehensive and systemic work of its kind.

The Apostolic Chancery was a dicastery of the Roman Curia at the service of the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. The principal and presiding official was the Cardinal Chancellor of Holy Roman Church who was always Cardinal-Priest of the Basilica di San Lorenzo in Damaso. The original, principal function of the office was to collect money to maintain the Papal Army. Pope Pius VII reformed the office when Emperor Napoleon I of France obviated the need for Papal armies. In the early 20th century the office collected money for missionary work. Pope Paul VI abrogated the Cancellaria Apostolica on 27 February 1973. Its obligations were transferred to the Secretariat of State.

Prelate high-ranking member of the clergy

A prelate is a high-ranking member of the clergy who is an ordinary or who ranks in precedence with ordinaries. The word derives from the Latin prælatus, the past participle of præferre, which means 'carry before', 'be set above or over' or 'prefer'; hence, a prelate is one set over others.


Pope Leo XIII reformed the organization of the Dataria to conform it to contemporary requirements. Pope Pius X reduced its faculties and re-organized it in his apostolic constitution Sapienti Consilio, according to which the Dataria consisted of the Cardinal Datary, the Subdatary, the Prefect and his Surrogate (Sostituto), a few officers, the Cashier who was ex officio the Distributor, the Reviser, and 2 scribes of Papal bulls. Sapienti Consilio retained the theological examiners for the competitions for parishes. Among the abrogated offices was that of the Apostolic Dispatchers, for which there was no rationale in the re-organization of the Roman Curia: formerly these officials were necessary because private persons could not refer directly to the Dataria, which dealt only with persons of whom it approved, but later any person could deal directly with it and any other departments of the Roman Curia.

Pope Leo XIII 256th Pope of the Catholic Church

Pope Leo XIII was head of the Catholic Church from 20 February 1878 to his death. He was the oldest pope, and had the third-longest confirmed pontificate, behind that of Pius IX and John Paul II.

An apostolic constitution is the most solemn form of legislation issued by the Pope. The use of the term constitution comes from Latin constitutio, which referred to any important law issued by the Roman emperor, and is retained in church documents because of the inheritance that the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church received from Roman law.

Papal bull type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church

A papal bull is a type of public decree, letters patent, or charter issued by a pope of the Roman Catholic Church. It is named after the leaden seal (bulla) that was traditionally appended to the end in order to authenticate it.

To the Dataria, which was commissioned to grant many Papal indults and favors, remained only the faculties to investigate the fitness of candidates for Consistorial benefices, which were reserved to the Apostolic See; to write and dispatch the Apostolic Letters for the collation of those benefices; to dispense from the conditions of those benefices; and to provide for the pensions or for the execution of the charges imposed by the Pope in the collation of those benefices.

The procedures of the Dataria were complex and primarily regulated by customs, which the officials of the Dataria zealously guarded, being generally laity, and who had by such guarding instituted a species of monopoly of the faculties of the Dataria, as detrimental to the Apostolic See as it was personally profitable to them. Thus it happened that its offices often descended from father to son, while the ecclesiastical superiors of such officials were to a great extent blindly dependent upon them. Pope Leo XIII initiated the reform of this condition of things before Pope Pius X totally rectified it.

In religious organizations, the laity consists of all members who are not part of the clergy, usually including any non-ordained members of religious institutes, e.g. a nun or lay brother.


After the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI reformed the Roman Curia by the apostolic constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae of 15 August 1967, which included the abrogation of the Dataria Apostolica. [1]

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  1. Jedin, Hubert (1999). The Church in the Modern Age. 10. London: Burns & Oates. p. 169.