Congregation (Roman Curia)

Last updated
Emblem of the Papacy SE.svg
Part of a series on the
Roman Curia
Coat of arms Holy See.svg
046CupolaSPietro.jpg Catholicismportal

In the Roman Curia, a congregation (Italian : Sacræ Cardinalium Congregationes) is a type of department of the Curia. They are second highest-ranking departments, [1] ranking below the two Secretariats, and above the pontifical councils, pontifical commissions, tribunals and offices. [2]

Contents

Originally, congregations were selected groups of cardinals drawn from the College of Cardinals, commissioned to take care of some field of activity that concerned the Holy See. Today, as a result of a decision of the Second Vatican Council, members include diocesan bishops from diverse parts of the world who are not cardinals. Each congregation also has a permanent staff.

Each congregation is led by a Prefect, who is usually a cardinal. [3] Until recently, a non-cardinal appointed to head a congregation was styled pro-prefect until made a cardinal. This practice has been abandoned.

History and functioning

Certain curial departments have been organized by the Holy See at various times to assist it in the transaction of those affairs which canonical discipline and the individual interests of the faithful bring to Rome. Of these the most important traditionally were the Roman Congregations, as is evident from the mere consideration of the dignity of their membership, comprising cardinals who assist the pope in the administration of the affairs of the Church, though Cardinals have not always participated in the administration of ecclesiastical affairs in the same way. [4] Under the current law, the dicasteries are juridically equal, but congregations generally have more direct jurisdiction than other dicasteries. [5]

Ecclesiastical business used to be handled by the pontifical chancery. However, the ever-growing number of business items and the ever-increasing complexity of the issues necessitated the creation of separate, specialised administrative-legislative bodies [3] (the administrative and legislative functions of ecclesiastical government are not as sharply separated in the Catholic Church as in a secular government with the separation of powers). [3]

The Roman Congregations originated in the necessity, felt from the beginning, of studying the questions submitted for pontifical decision, in order to sift the legal questions arising and to establish matters of fact duly. This work, at first entrusted to the papal chaplains, was afterwards divided between the penitentiarii and the auditores, according as questions of the internal or the external forum (i.e., jurisdiction) were to be considered. Thereafter, cardinals in greater or less number were associated with them. Often, however, they were not merely entrusted with the preparation of the case, but were given authority to decide it. As, on the other hand, the increased numbers of cases to be passed upon occupied a great number of persons, while the proper administration of justice required that those persons should be of the most experienced, it appeared to be advisable, if not necessary, to divide this business into various and distinct groups. This division would evidently facilitate the selection of wise and experienced men in all branches of ecclesiastical affairs. Hence also a natural division into executive cases, assigned to the offices (officia), judicial cases, reserved to the tribunals, and administrative cases, committed to the Roman Congregations. [4]

Pope Sixtus V was the first to distribute this administrative business among different congregations of cardinals; and in his Apostolic Constitution Immensa Aeterni Dei (22 January 1588) he generalized the idea, already conceived and partly reduced to practice by some of his predecessors, of committing one or another case or a group of cases to the examination, or to the decision, of several cardinals. By a judicious division of administrative matters, he established that permanent organization of these departments of the Curia, which since then have rendered such great services to the Church. The congregations at first established by Sixtus V were officially designated as [4]

While the chief end of the Congregations of Cardinals was to assist the sovereign pontiff in the administration of the affairs of the Church, some of these congregations were created to assist in the administration of the temporal States of the Holy See. The number of these varied according to circumstances and the requirements of the moment; in the time of Cardinal De Luca there were about nineteen of them, as he tells in his "Relatio Romanæ Curiæ forensis", without counting other congregations of a lower order, consisting of prelates, as were, for example, the "Congregatio baronum et montium" and the "Congregatio computorum". [4]

Reform of Pius X

Other congregations were added by different popes, until a complete organization was established by Pope Pius X in his Constitution Sapienti Consilio of 29 June 1908, according to which there were thirteen congregations, counting that of the Propaganda as only one; however, the last-named congregation is divided into two parts: Congregation of the Propaganda for Affairs of the Latin Rite, and Congregation of the Propaganda for Affairs of the Oriental Rites, it may well be considered as two congregations, so that the total number of the congregations is fourteen. Sixtus V granted ordinary jurisdiction to each of the congregations which he instituted within the limits of the cases assigned to it, reserving to himself and to his successors the presidency of some of the more important congregations, such as the Congregation of the Holy Inquisition and that of the Signature of Grace. As time went on, the congregations of cardinals, which at first dealt exclusively with administrative matters, came to pass upon the legal points of the cases submitted to them, until the congregations overshadowed the ecclesiastical tribunals and even the Roman Rota, in fact almost taking their places. In time the transaction of business was impeded by the accumulation of jurisdictions, different congregations exercising jurisdiction rendering decisions and enacting laws in the same matters; Pius X resolved to define the competency of each congregation more precisely and to provide otherwise for the better exercise of its functions. [4]

On 29 June 1908, with the constitution Sapienti Consilio, Pope Pius X reduced the number of the congregations to 11. [3] They were: [3]

All decisions of the sacred congregations require pontifical approval, unless special powers have been given previously by the pope. The officials of the congregations are divided into two classes: minor officers, who are to be chosen by competitive examination and named by a letter of the Cardinal-prefect, and major officers, freely selected by the pope, and named by a note of the Cardinal Secretary of State. There is to be henceforth no cumulation of offices in the hands of one individual, not only to satisfy the requirements of distributive justice, but also because the tenure of several offices by the same person often results in detriment to the service. Wherefore, it is forbidden for an officer of one of the congregations to serve in any way as an agent, or as a procurator or advocate, in his own department or in any other ecclesiastical tribunal. [4]

The competency of the 'congresso' in each congregation is determined. The congresso consists of the major officers under the presidency of the cardinal who presides over the congregation. It deals with the matters of less importance among those that are before the congregation, while those of greater moment must be referred to the full congregations of cardinals. It is also the business of the congresso to prepare for their discussion those matters that are to be considered by the full congregation. On the other hand, the congresso is charged with the execution of the orders of the full congregation that have received the approval of the pope. As examples of matters of greater importance which must be considered by the full congregation, the special rules (normæ peculiares) mention the solution of doubts or of questions that may arise in regard to the interpretation of ecclesiastical laws, the examination of important administrative controversies and kindred matters. The normæ peculiares and the normæ communes, together with the Constitution "Sapienti Consilio", constituted the entire code of Pius' organization of the Roman ecclesiastical departments. [4]

Reform of Paul VI

Following the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI implemented many of the changes called for in the Curia with his Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae of 15 August 1967. One of the main changes brought about by Paul VI was the admission of diocesan bishops and archbishops as members of the Congregations, which has previously been restricted to cardinals.

Reform of John Paul II

The most recent reorganization of the Roman Congregations came with Pope John Paul II's Constitution Pastor Bonus , issued June 28, 1988. This constitution more closely aligned the structure of the Curia with the norms established by the 1983 Code of Canon Law and the early drafts of what became the 1990 Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches. Pastor Bonus also continued Paul's expansion of the membership of congregations, allowing priests, deacons, the religious and the laity to be members of certain congregations and establishing consultors, experts appointed to the dicasteries of the Roman Curia to provide opinions, either singly or collectively, for particular issues when required.

Sr. Luzia Premoli, superior general of the Combonian Missionary Sisters, was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in 2014, thus becoming the first woman to be appointed a member of a Vatican congregation. [6]

Current congregations

Since 1988, there have been nine Congregations:

CongregationCurrent prefectCountryPicture
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Luis Ladaria Ferrer Flag of Spain.svg  Spain

Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer.png

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments Robert Sarah Flag of Guinea.svg  Guinea Cardinal Robert Sarah (cropped).JPG
Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples Luis Antonio Tagle Flag of the Philippines.svg  Philippines Luis Antonio Tagle in 2016.png
Congregation for the Causes of Saints Giovanni Angelo Becciu Flag of Italy.svg  Italy Giovanni Angelo Becciu in 2013.jpg
Congregation for Bishops Marc Ouellet Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada Marc Ouellet 2012.jpg
Congregation for the Clergy Beniamino Stella Flag of Italy.svg  Italy Beniamino Stella.jpg
Congregation for the Oriental Churches Leonardo Sandri Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina Leonardo Sandri.jpg
Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life João Braz de Aviz Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil Joao braz de aviz.jpg
Congregation for Catholic Education Giuseppe Versaldi Flag of Italy.svg  Italy Giuseppe Cardinal Versaldi.jpg

See also

Related Research Articles

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.

A dicastery is a department of the Roman Curia, the administration of the Holy See through which the pope directs the Roman Catholic Church. The most recent comprehensive constitution of the church, Pastor bonus (1988), includes this definition:

By the word "dicasteries" are understood the Secretariat of State, Congregations, Tribunals, Councils and Offices, namely, the Apostolic Camera, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See and the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.

The Secretariat of State is the oldest dicastery in the Roman Curia, the central papal governing bureaucracy of the Catholic Church. It is headed by the Cardinal Secretary of State and performs all the political and diplomatic functions of the Holy See. The Secretariat is divided into three sections, the Section for General Affairs, the Section for Relations with States, and, since 2017, the Section for Diplomatic Staff.

The Congregation for Catholic Education is the pontifical congregation of the Roman Curia responsible for: (1) universities, faculties, institutes and higher schools of study, either ecclesial or non-ecclesiastical dependent on ecclesial persons; and (2) schools and educational institutes depending on ecclesiastical authorities.

The Congregation for the Oriental Churches is a dicastery of the Roman Curia, and the curial congregation 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, alongside the liturgical, disciplinary, and spiritual patrimony of the Latin Rite, the heritage and Oriental 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, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Turkey, 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 and "considers those matters, whether concerning persons or things, affecting the Catholic Oriental Churches."

Apostolic Signatura tribunal of the Roman Curia

The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura is the highest judicial authority in the Catholic Church. In addition, it oversees the administration of justice in the church.

Cardinal Vicar

Cardinal Vicar is a title commonly given to the vicar general of the Diocese of Rome for the portion of the diocese within Italy. The official title, as given in the Annuario Pontificio, is "Vicar General of His Holiness".

The Apostolic Datary was one of the five Ufficii di 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 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.

The Section for Relations with States or Second Section of the Secretariat of State is the body within the Roman Curia charged with dealing with matters that involve relations with civil governments. It has been part of the Vatican Secretariat of State since 1909.

Pastor bonus is an apostolic constitution promulgated by Pope John Paul II on 28 June 1988. It instituted a number of reforms in the process of running the central government of the Roman Catholic Church, as article 1 states "The Roman Curia is the complex of dicasteries and institutes which help the Roman Pontiff in the exercise of his supreme pastoral office for the good and service of the whole Church and of the particular Churches. It thus strengthens the unity of the faith and the communion of the people of God and promotes the mission proper to the Church in the world".

Pietro Ciriaci Catholic cardinal

Pietro Ciriaci was an Italian Cardinal of the Catholic Church who served as prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Council in the Roman Curia from 1954 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1953 by Pope Pius XII.

The Pontifical Council for Social Communications was a dicastery of the Roman Curia that was suppressed in March 2016 and merged into the Secretariat for Communications.

The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People was a dicastery of the Roman Curia. The Council, established by Pope John Paul II on 28 June 1988, was dedicated to the spiritual welfare of migrant and itinerant people.

The Pontifical Commission for Latin America is a department of the Roman Curia. Established by Pope Pius XII on 19 April, 1958, it is charged with providing assistance to and examining matters pertaining to the Church in Latin America. The Commission operates under the auspices of the Congregation for Bishops.

Francesco Borgongini Duca Catholic cardinal

Francesco Borgongini Duca was an Italian Cardinal of the Catholic Church who served as Apostolic Nuncio to Italy from 1929 to 1953 and was made a cardinal in 1953 by Pope Pius XII.

The history of the Roman Curia, the administrative apparatus responsible for managing the affairs of the Holy See and the Catholic Church, can be traced to the 11th century when informal methods of administration began to take on a more organized structure and eventual a bureaucratic form. The Curia has undergone a series of renewals and reforms, including a major overhaul following the loss of the Papal States, which fundamentally altered the range and nature of the Curia's responsibilities, removing many of an entirely secular nature.

The law of Vatican City State consists of many forms, the most important of which is the Fundamental Law of Vatican City State. The Code of Penal Procedure governs tribunals and the Lateran Treaty governs relations with the Italian Republic.

The Council of Cardinal Advisers, formally the Council of Cardinals (C9), is a group of Catholic cardinals appointed by Pope Francis to serve as his advisers. Announced on 13 April 2013, one month after his election, it was formally established on 28 September of the same year. The Council currently has six members, following the decision by Pope Francis to remove three of its members in late 2018.

Oriental canon law is the law of the 23 Catholic sui juris particular churches of the Eastern Catholic tradition. Oriental canon law includes both the common tradition among all Eastern Catholic Churches, now chiefly contained in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, as well as to the particular law proper to each individual sui juris particular Eastern Catholic Church. Oriental canon law is distinguished from Latin canon law, which developed along a separate line in the remnants of the Western Roman Empire, and is now chiefly codified in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

References

  1. Wooden, Cindy. "Changing needs, changing names: Reform of Curia is Vatican tradition". The Catholic Sun. The Catholic Sun. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  2. "The Roman Curia - Index". www.vatican.va.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 René Metz, Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism, Vol. 80: What is Canon Law? (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1960), pp. 99-101
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Catholic Encyclopedia, Roman Congregations
  5. Changing needs, changing names: Reform of Curia is Vatican tradition, accessed 25 April 2019.
  6. "First woman appointed to a Vatican congregation joyful :: EWTN News". www.ewtnnews.com.

PD-icon.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). " article name needed ". Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton.