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A dicastery (from Greek δικαστήριον, law-court, from δικαστής, judge/juror) 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:
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.
Dikastes was a legal office in ancient Greece that signified, in the broadest sense, a judge or juror, but more particularly denotes the Attic functionary of the democratic period, who, with his colleagues, was constitutionally empowered to try to pass judgment upon all causes and questions that the laws and customs of his country found to warrant judicial investigation.
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.
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 Apostolic Camera, formerly known as the Papal Treasury, is an office in the Roman Curia. It was the central board of finance in the Papal administrative system and at one time was of great importance in the government of the States of the Church, and in the administration of justice, led by the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church.
The Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See is the office of the Roman Curia that deals with the "provisions owned by the Holy See in order to provide the funds necessary for the Roman Curia to function". It was established by Pope Paul VI on 15 August 1967. The Ordinary Section, one of APSA's formerly two sections, was transferred to the Secretariat for the Economy by Pope Francis on 8 July 2014. In its reduced form, APSA acts as the Treasury and central bank of Vatican City and the Holy See.
These dicasteries or departments are grouped in the following categories:
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith 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, and between 1908 and 1965 was officially known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office.
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."
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is the congregation of the Roman Curia that handles most affairs relating to liturgical practices of the Latin Church as distinct from the Eastern Catholic Churches and also some technical matters relating to the Sacraments. Its functions were originally exercised by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, set up in January 1588 by Pope Sixtus V.
The Dicastery for Communications is a division (dicastery) of the Roman Curia with authority over all communication offices of the Holy See and the Vatican City State, including the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Holy See Press Office, Vatican Internet Service, Vatican Radio, Vatican Television Center, L'Osservatore Romano, Vatican Press, Photograph Service, and Vatican Publishing House.
The Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life is a dicastery of the Roman Curia. Pope Francis announced its creation on 15 August 2016, effective 1 September 2016. It takes over the functions and responsibilities of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family. It has responsibility "for the promotion of the life and apostolate of the lay faithful, for the pastoral care of the family and its mission according to God's plan and for the protection and support of human life." The statutes governing this new body had been approved on 4 June 2016. A revised statue was published on 8 May 2018, effective 13 May. It added to its mission promoting "ecclesial reflection on the identity and mission of women in the church and in society, promoting their participation"; specified two undersecretaries instead of two and no longer required organization into three divisions; and both developing "guidelines for training programs for engaged couples preparing for marriage, and for young married couples" and guiding the care of couples in unorthodox marital situations.
The Vatican announced the creation of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development on 31 August 2016 and it became effective 1 January 2017. Cardinal Peter K. A. Turkson was named its first prefect. The Prefect is to be assisted by a Secretary and at least one Undersecretary.
The pope, also known as the supreme pontiff, is the bishop of Rome and leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. Since 1929, the pope has also been head of state of Vatican City, a city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. The current pope is Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013, succeeding Benedict XVI.
The Secretariat for the Economy is a dicastery of the Roman Curia with authority over all economic activities of the Holy See and the Vatican City State.
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 Holy See, also called the See of Rome, refers to the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope, which includes the apostolic episcopal see of the Diocese of Rome with universal ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the worldwide Catholic Church, as well as a sovereign entity of international law.
Agostino Cacciavillan is an Italian prelate of the Catholic Church, a cardinal since 2001. He worked in the diplomatic service of the Holy See from 1959 to 1998; he was given the titles of archbishop and nuncio in 1998 and served as Pro-Nuncio to Kenya, India, Nepal, and the United States between 1976 and 1998. He then worked in the Roman Curia from 1998 to 2002 as President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.
Franc Rode is a Slovenian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, having served as prefect from 2004 to 2011. He was elevated to the cardinalate in 2006.
James Michael Harvey is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. Trained as a diplomat, he served from 1982 to 1998 in the central administration of the Holy See's Secretariat of State. From 1998 to 2012 he managed the pope's household, first for Pope John Paul II and then for Pope Benedict XVI. He was named a bishop in 1998, an archbishop in 2003, and a cardinal in 2012.
Agostino Vallini is an Italian prelate of the Catholic Church. He has been a cardinal since 2006. From 2008 to 2017 he served as Vicar General of Rome. He is also the Archpriest emeritus of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.
The Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See was an "office" of the Roman Curia, erected on 15 August 1967, and entrusted with overseeing all the offices of the Holy See that manage finances, regardless of their degree of autonomy.
A pontifical council is a mid-sized department or dicastery of the Roman Curia, the central organization responsible for assisting the pope in the governance and oversight of Catholic Church. Such a council has a cardinal or archbishop as its president and is restricted in its activities in comparison with the larger parts of the Curia.
The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts is a dicastery of the Roman Curia. Its work "consists mainly in interpreting the laws of the Church".. It is distinct from the highest tribunal or court in the Church, which is the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, and does not have law-making authority to the degree the Pope and the Holy See's tribunals do. Its charge is the interpretation of existing canon laws, and it works closely with the Signatura and the other Tribunals and the Pope. Like the Signatura and the other two final appellate Tribunals, the Roman Rota and the Apostolic Penitentiary, it is led by a prefect who is a bishop or archbishop.
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".
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.
Pope Paul VI's reform of the Roman Curia was accomplished through a series of decrees beginning in 1964, principally through the apostolic constitution Regimini Ecclesiae universae issued on 15 August 1967.
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.
This is a glossary of terms used within the Catholic Church.
Giuseppe Versaldi is the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, since his appointment, by Pope Francis on 31 March 2015. Previously, Versaldi served as President of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See since 21 September 2011. Versaldi had served before that as Bishop of Alessandria. Pope Benedict XVI elevated him to the rank of cardinal on 18 February 2012.
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.