|Latin: Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei|
|Headquarters|| Palace of the Holy Office |
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF; Latin : Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei) is the oldest among the nine congregations of the Roman Curia, seated at the Palace of the Holy Office in Rome. 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, it is informally known in many Catholic countries as the Holy Office (Latin : Sanctum Officium), and between 1908 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 Luis Ladaria Ferrer, who was appointed by Pope Francis for a five-year term beginning July 2017.
Pope Francis has planned a reorganization of the Curia that will alter the role of this Congregation. A final draft of his apostolic constitution on the Roman Curia, titled Praedicate Evangelium (“Preach the Gospel”), has been submitted for comment to national bishops’ conferences and a variety of other bodies.However, it has also been agreed that changes to the Congregation will only reform Catholic missions and not affect Catholic doctrine.
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On 21 July 1542, Pope 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 1908 by Pope 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 7 December 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,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 is established "to maintain and defend the integrity of the faith and to examine and proscribe errors and false doctrines."|
|1622||Pope Gregory XV writes 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, reiterates 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 Pope Pius X.|
|1965||The Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office is renamed Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (SCDF).|
|1985||All dicasteries of the Roman Curia no longer use the adjective "sacred" as part of their title. The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith becomes the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).|
|1988||Pope John Paul II reaffirms the authority of the CDF on 28 June: "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."|
|2014||On 11 November Pope Francis sets up within the CDF a special body to expedite consideration of appeals by priests against laicization or other penalties imposed on them in cases of sexual abuse.|
|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 CDF and with the congregation that has oversight over the bishop.|
|2018||Francis appoints three women as consultors to the Congregation, the first in its history.|
|2019||The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei is merged into the Congregation.|
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 Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela a motu proprio of 2001, come under the competency of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In effect, it is the "promoter of justice" which deals with, among other things, the question of priests accused of paedophilia.
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 held the title of prefect and appointed a cardinal 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 and the title of Secretary refers to the second highest-ranking officer of the Congregation. As of 2012 the Congregation had a membership of 18 cardinals and a smaller number of non-cardinal bishops, a staff of 38 (clerical and lay) and 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.
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The following is a list of recent documents and judgments issued by the CDF. Lengthy CDF documents usually have Latin titles. A short document that briefly states objections to one or more writings by a Catholic theologian is typically called a "notification."
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). Until 1968 the Pope himself presided over the Congregation. However, from 1564 the daily administration of the affairs of the Congregation was entrusted to the Cardinal Secretary. pp19–26) This model was retained when the Inquisition was formally renamed as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office in 1908.(
Unless stated otherwise, the secretaryship ended with the officeholder's death.
When Pope Paul VI changed the name of the dicastery on 7 December 1965, he changed the title of the cardinal in charge of the daily administration of the Congregation from Secretary to Pro-Prefect. He continued to reserve the title of Prefect to himselfuntil 1968 when he relinquished his role as head of the Congregation and named a Prefect.
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 held the title of Secretary:
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.
Jozef Tomko is a Slovak Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 1985 to 2001, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1985.
Ignatius Basile Moses I Daoud was Patriarch of Antioch for the Syrian Catholic Church, a Cardinal Bishop, and Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in the Catholic Church.
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 Eastern Catholic 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, 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."
In the Roman Curia, a congregation is a type of department of the Curia. They are second-highest-ranking departments, ranking below the two Secretariats, and above the pontifical councils, pontifical commissions, tribunals and offices.
The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei was a commission of the Catholic Church established by Pope John Paul II's motu proprioEcclesia Dei of 2 July 1988 for the care of those former followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre who broke with him as a result of his consecration of four priests of his Society of St. Pius X as bishops on 30 June 1988, an act that the Holy See deemed illicit and a schismatic act. It was also tasked with trying to return to full communion with the Holy See those traditionalist Catholics who are in a state of separation, of whom the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) is foremost, and of helping to satisfy just aspirations of people unconnected with these groups who want to keep alive the pre-1970 Roman Rite liturgy.
The Declaration on Masonic Associations is a declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith re-iterating the prohibition of Catholics from joining Masonic organizations. Its Latin title is Declaratio de associationibus massonicis. The document states that Catholics who join Masonic organizations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion. It was issued in 1983 by the prefect of the congregation, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI on April 19, 2005.
Joseph Ratzinger was named by Pope John Paul II on 25 November 1981 as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Holy Office and, especially around the sixteenth century, as the Roman Inquisition.
William Joseph Levada was an American cardinal of the Catholic Church. From May 2005 until June 2012, he served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope Benedict XVI; he was the highest ranking American in the Roman Curia. He was previously the Archbishop of Portland in Oregon from 1986 to 1995, and then Archbishop of San Francisco from 1995 to 2005. While serving as archbishop, he was criticized for covering up sexual abuse by priests within his jurisdiction. Levada was created a cardinal in 2006 by Benedict XVI.
The International Theological Commission (ITC) of the Catholic Church advises the Magisterium of the Church, particularly the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), a dicastery of the Roman Curia. Its memberships consists of no more than 30 Catholic theologians appointed by the pope at the suggestion of the Prefect of the CDF for renewable five year terms. They tend to meet annually for a week in Rome, where the Commission is based.
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".
Angelo Amato, S.D.B. is an Italian cardinal of the Catholic Church who served as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints between 2008 and 2018. He served as Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 2002 to 2008 and became a cardinal in 2010.
Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer is a Spanish Jesuit, theologian and a cardinal of the Catholic Church. After a thirty-year career teaching theology, he joined the Roman Curia in 2004 as Secretary-General of the International Theological Commission. An archbishop from 2008 until his appointment to the cardinalate in 2018, he became Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in 2017.
The Lady of All Nations is a Catholic Marian title sometimes associated with apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Ida Peerdeman of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Peerdeman claimed to have received 56 visions of the Lady from 1945 to 1959.
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is one of two associations of the leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. LCWR includes over 1300 members, who are members of 302 religious congregations that include 33,431 women religious in the United States as of 2018. Founded in 1956, the conference describes its charter as assisting its members to "collaboratively carry out their service of leadership to further the mission of the Gospel in today's world." The canonically-approved organization collaborates in the Catholic church and in society to "influence systemic change, studying significant trends and issues within the church and society, utilizing our corporate voice in solidarity with people who experience any form of violence or oppression, and creating and offering resource materials on religious leadership skills." The conference serves as a resource both to its members and to the public who are seeking resources on leadership for religious life.
Gerhard Ludwig Müller is a German cardinal of the Catholic Church. He served as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) from his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 until 2017. He was elevated to the rank of cardinal in 2014.
Normae Congregationis (NC) is a 1978 document written by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) which sets guidelines for Catholic bishops in discerning claims of private revelation such as Marian apparitions. It specifies the manner of discernment and the authorities competent to carry out such discernment.
A notification by the Holy See is an official announcement by a department of the Holy See, the leadership of the Catholic Church in Rome.
The Council of Cardinals (C9), also known as the Council of Cardinal Advisers, is a group of cardinals of the Catholic Church 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 seven members, following the decision by Pope Francis to remove three of its members in late 2018 and the appointment of another in 2020.