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.
The Prefect of the CDF is ex officio the president of the ITC.
The ITC traces its origins to an idea presented at the first General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 1967.It was established on an interim basis by Pope Paul VI on 11 April 1969. His first appointments were announced on 1 May 1969. The first meeting of the ITC took place on 6–8 October 1969 and was presided over by Cardinal Franjo Šeper. Four working groups were set up for the duration of the first term to explore: (i) the unity of the Faith, (ii) the priesthood, (iii) the theology of hope: the Christian Faith and the future of humanity, (iv) the criteria for Christian moral conscience. The October plenary session of 1970 studied a paper on "The Priestly Ministry" prepared by the sub-commission on the priesthood. At the October plenary session of 1972, the ITC studied the topic of Theological Pluralism prepared by the subcommission on the unity of the faith. According to one historian, the ITC contributed the CDF's statement Mysterium Ecclesiae, issued in 1973, a wide-ranging defense of the Church in the modern world.
In October 1969, at the first meeting of the ITC, Karl Rahner had produced a document on the principle questions which he felt should be addressed.However, Rahner resigned after the first term, claiming that the ITC was "stewing in its own juices". His complaint was that the CDF, and in particular Cardinal Seper, were not prepared to seriously consult the ITC on questions of the day. After five years, only thirteen of the original thirty theologians were reappointed. The plenary session of October 1974 addressed the topic of Christian Ethics.
On 6 August 1982, Pope John Paul II issued Tredecim anni to confirm the institutional structure of the ITC.
Since 2004, women are allowed to be members of the ITC.
The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is president of this Commission ex officio. They have been/are:
The secretaries general have been/are:
This Commission produces reports on an irregular schedule. In 2018 it released its 28th document.Some address topics of broad interest and attract media attention, while others are little noted outside a scholarly and clerical audience.
In 1976, the ITC issued a report on liberation theology, titled "Human Development and Christian Salvation".It warned that Marxist-Leninist analysis because it rests on dubious assumptions and privileges action over the understanding that is the foremost aim of theological inquiry. In 1997, the commission produced the document "Christianity and the Religions", a discussion of religious pluralism. In 2004, the document "Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God" considered the relationship between creation, evolution, and Christian faith.
In "The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die without Being Baptised" in 2007, the Commission discussed the traditional belief that unbaptized children cannot enter heaven, but remain in limbo, denied access to the presence of God. It said this belief had no theological foundation, that revelation provided no clear guidance on the issue, and called it an "unduly restricted view of salvation", though it remains a possible view.Popular media interpreted this as a rejection of the very concept of limbo.
In Catholic theology, Limbo is the viewpoint concerning the afterlife condition of those who die in original sin without being assigned to the Hell of the Damned. Medieval theologians of Western Europe described the underworld as divided into four distinct parts: Hell of the Damned, Purgatory, Limbo of the Fathers or Patriarchs, and Limbo of the Infants. The Limbo of the Fathers is an official doctrine of the Catholic Church, but the Limbo of the Infants is not.
Liberation theology is a synthesis of Christian theology and socio-economic analyses, that emphasizes "social concern for the poor and political liberation for oppressed peoples." Beginning in the 1960s after the Second Vatican Council, liberation theology became the political praxis of Latin American theologians such as Gustavo Gutiérrez, Leonardo Boff, and Jesuits Juan Luis Segundo, and Jon Sobrino, who popularized the phrase "preferential option for the poor." This expression was used first by Jesuit Fr. General Pedro Arrupe in 1968 and soon after this the World Synod of Catholic Bishops in 1971 chose as its theme "Justice in the World".
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.
Angelo Raffaele Sodano, GCC is an Italian prelate of the Catholic Church, a Cardinal since 1991. He was the Dean of the College of Cardinals from 2005 to 2019, and Cardinal Secretary of State from 1991 to 2006; Sodano was the first person since 1828 to serve simultaneously as Dean and Secretary of State.
Angelo Scola is an Italian Cardinal of the Catholic Church, philosopher and theologian. He was Archbishop of Milan from 2011 to 2017. He had served as Patriarch of Venice from 2002 to 2011. He has been a cardinal since 2003 and a bishop since 1991.
Crescenzio Sepe is an Italian prelate of the Catholic Church who has been Archbishop of Naples since 2006. He served in the Roman Curia as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 2001 to 2006. He was made a cardinal in 2001. Before that he spent 25 years in increasingly important positions in the Roman Curia.
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) is a dicastery of the Roman Curia, erected by Pope Paul VI on 19 May 1964 as the Secretariat for Non-Christians, and renamed by Pope John Paul II on 28 June 1988.
Franjo Šeper was a Croatian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1968 to 1981, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1965.
Geoffrey Wainwright was an English theologian. He spent much of his career in the United States and taught at Duke Divinity School. Wainwright made major contributions to modern Methodist theology and Christian liturgy, and played a significant role on producing the text Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, as a member of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
Leonardo Sandri is an Argentine Cardinal of the Catholic Church. He has been the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches since June 2007 and a cardinal since November of that year. He served in the diplomatic service of the Holy See from 1974 to 1991, in several overseas assignments including as permanent observer of the Holy See before the Organization of American States from 1989 to 1991, and in Rome as Substitute for General Affairs in the Secretariat of State from 1999 to 2007. On 24 January 2020, Pope Francis approved his election as Vice Dean of the College of Cardinals.
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.
Stanisław Marian Ryłko is a Polish Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He held positions in the Roman Curia beginning in 1987 and was president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity from 2003 to 2016. He was made a cardinal in 2007. He has been Archpriest of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore since 28 December 2016.
Gianfranco Ravasi is an Italian prelate of the Catholic Church. A cardinal since 2010, he has been President of the Pontifical Council for Culture since 3 September 2007. He headed Milan's Ambrosian Library from 1989 to 2007.
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.
Joseph Augustine Di Noia is an American member of the Dominican Order who is a Roman Catholic archbishop and theologian. Since 2013 he has been Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He has held several other positions in the Roman Curia since 2002.
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.
Savio Hon Tai-fai SDB is a Roman Catholic archbishop and the nuncio of the Holy See to Greece. He served as secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 2010 to 2017. Before that he was professor of theology at the Holy Spirit Seminary of Hong Kong.
Charles Jude Scicluna is a Canadian-Maltese prelate of the Catholic Church who has been the Archbishop of Malta since 2015. He held positions in the Roman Curia from 1995 to 2012, when he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Malta. Both as a curial official and since becoming a bishop he has conducted investigations into sexual abuse by clergy on behalf of the Holy See and led a board that reviews such cases. He has been called "the Vatican's most respected sex crimes expert". Since November 2018 he has also been Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the curial body responsible for dealing with clerical sexual abuse cases on minors around the world. Archbishop Scicluna was also appointed Grand Prior of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, Lieutenancy of Malta on his appointment as Archbishop of Malta.