Pastor bonus

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Pastor bonus (Latin: "The Good Shepherd") 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".



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John Paul II

Pastor bonus laid out in considerable detail the organization of the Roman Curia, specifying precisely the names and composition of each dicastery, and enumerating which competencies, or responsibilities, each dicastery was charged with overseeing. It replaced the previous governing document, Regimini Ecclesiae universae , which was released by Paul VI in 1967. [1]

It delineated the roles of the Secretariat of State, Congregations, Tribunals, Pontifical Councils, Administrative Services and Pontifical Commissions of the Roman Curia. It also established the norms for the ad limina visits of bishops to Rome and the relationship between the Holy See and the particular Churches and episcopal conferences.


Among the changes formulated in the constitution was the re-integration of the Council for Public Affairs of the Church into the Secretariat of State as the Section for Relations with States (the Second Section). The Council for Public Affairs of the Church had previously been a section of the Secretariat of State, but was made an independent dicastery by Pope Paul VI in 1967. [2]

The constitution also opened membership in dicasteries to priests, deacons, religious, and lay persons. For centuries, only cardinals were eligible for membership in the organs of the Holy See, but Pope Paul VI allowed diocesan bishops to be members following calls for collegiality at the Second Vatican Council. Pastor bonus continued the opening of the central government of the church by allowing representatives of all the faithful to have a role in the Roman Curia. [3]


As of March 2016, [4] Pastor bonus has been amended by Quaerit semper in 2011, [5] Ministrorum institutio and Fides per doctrinam in 2013, [6] [7] and Confermando una tradizione in 2014. [8]

In the Apostolic Letter Ministrorum institutio of 16 January 2013, Pope Benedict XVI transferred the governance of seminaries from the Congregation for Catholic Education to the Congregation for the Clergy. [6] On the same day the Apostolic Letter Fides per doctrinam transferred the competence of catechesis from the Congregation for Clergy to the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. [9]

In October 2013, Pope Francis and his Council of Cardinals were reviewing Pastor bonus for possible further revisions. [10] On 24 February 2014, Francis issued the Apostolic Letter Fidelis dispensator et prudens establishing the Council for the Economy to oversee the administrative and financial structures and activities of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, the institutions linked to the Holy See, and the Vatican City State. It also established the Secretariat for the Economy as a dicastery of the Roman Curia. [11]

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 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.

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."

Franc Rode Catholic cardinal

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.

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.

Francesco Monterisi Italian cardinal

Francesco Marco Nicola Monterisi is an Italian cardinal of the Catholic Church, who worked in the diplomatic service of the Holy See from 1964 to 1998 and then held senior positions in the Roman Curia until he retired in 2014.

Raffaele Farina Catholic cardinal

Raffaele Farina SDB is an Italian Cardinal of the Catholic Church. He was Archivist of the Vatican Secret Archives, Librarian of the Vatican Library, and president of Scuola Vaticana di Paleografia, Diplomatica e Archivistica. Farina was elevated to the cardinalate in 2007.

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.

Stanisław Ryłko Catholic cardinal

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.

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.

History of the Roman Curia

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.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the Synod of Bishops is an advisory body for the Pope. It is described in the Code of Canon Law (CIC) as "a group of bishops who have been chosen from different regions of the world and meet together at fixed times to foster closer unity between the Roman Pontiff and bishops, to assist the Roman Pontiff with their counsel in the preservation and growth of faith and morals and in the observance and strengthening of ecclesiastical discipline, and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world."

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.

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.

The Dicastery for Communication is a division (dicastery) of the Roman Curia with authority over all communication offices of the Holy See and the Vatican City State, Its various offices can be accessed through its website. These are the Pope's website and other offices such as Vatican News on internet, the Holy See Press Office, L'Osservatore Romano, Photograph Service, Vatican Radio, Vatican Press, and the Vatican Publishing House. The Pontifical Council for Social Communications has been subsumed into this new Dicastery.

Oriental canon law is the law of the 23 Catholic sui juris (autonomous) 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.


  1. Akin, Jimmy (2 October 2013). "Is Pope Francis about to 'rip up' the Vatican constitution? 12 things to know and share". National Catholic Register.
  2. "Secretariat of State: Profile". The Holy See . Retrieved 23 April 2007.
  3. Sodano, Angelo Cardinal (2001). "The Holy See's Presence in International Affairs". Seton Hall Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations. 2: 87.
  4. "Norms of current canon law of the universal Church". Rome, IT: Pontifical Gregorian University. n.d. [current as of 10 March 2016]. Archived from the original on 23 March 2016.
  5. Benedict XVI, Pope (30 August 2011). "Quaerit semper". Archived from the original on 3 April 2015. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  6. 1 2 Benedict XVI, Pope (16 January 2013). "Ministrorum institutio". Archived from the original on 8 September 2015. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  7. Benedict XVI, Pope (16 January 2013). "Fides per doctrinam". Archived from the original on 12 February 2015. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  8. Francis, Pope (8 July 2014). "Confermando una tradizione". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  9. "Fides per doctrinam". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016.
  10. MacDonald, Sarah (4 October 2013). "Council of Cardinals signals major changes to Pastor Bonus". Archived from the original on 8 April 2016.
  11. Francis, Pope (24 February 2014). "Fidelis dispensator et prudens". Archived from the original on 22 April 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2016.