Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Wikis


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The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) (Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei), previously known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, and sometimes simply called the Holy Office, is the oldest of the nine congregations of the Roman Curia. Among the most active of the congregations, it oversees Catholic doctrine.



Galileo before the Holy Office, a 19th century painting by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury

On July 21, 1542, Pope Paul III, with the Constitution Licet ab initio, established 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 Saint Pius X.

The Congegration's name was changed to Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on December 7, 1965, at the end of the Second Vatican Council. In 1983, with the new code of Canon law, "Sacred" was dropped from the names of Vatican Congregations, and so the dicastery adopted its current name Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


According to Article 48 of the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Pastor Bonus, promulgated by Pope John Paul II on June 28, 1988: "the duty proper to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is to promote and safeguard the doctrine on the faith and morals throughout the Catholic world: for this reason everything which in any way touches such matter falls within its competence."

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. The congregation also deals with sexual abuse cases.


Until 1968, the Pope himself held the title of prefect but never exercised this birth office. Instead, he appointed one of the cardinals 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, without further qualification. Therefore, from 1968 onwards, the title of Secretary refers to the second highest ranking officer of the Congregation. There are usually ten other cardinals on the Congregation, as well as a prelate and two assistants.

The work of the Congregation is divided into four sections: the doctrinal, disciplinary, matrimonial, and clerical office. The Congregation holds biennial plenary assemblies, and is occasionally obligated to censure theologians whose writings and teachings are contrary to Church doctrine (e.g., Hans Kung, Charles Curran, and Leonardo Boff).

Members (2009):

On 6 May 2006 Cardinals Antonio Cañizares Llovera and Jean-Pierre Ricard were named members of the Congregation.

Recent opinions and publications

  • Dominus Iesus (2000)[1]
  • Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons (2002)[2]
  • [3] (24 November 2002), arguably the basis for the comments by Cardinal George Pell and those by Archbishop Barry Hickey in June 2007 in Australia to Catholic politicians on their votes on therapeutic cloning legislation.
  • In an April 2007 address to chaplains, Archbishop Amato denounced same-sex marriage and abortion and criticized the Italian media's coverage of them, saying that they are evils "that remain almost invisible" due to media presentation of them as "expression of human progress."[4]
  • On September 28, 2007, Gaston Hebert, the then apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Little Rock stated that (per the July 11 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) 6 Arkansas nuns were excommunicated for heresy (the first in the diocese's 165-year history). They refused to recant the doctrines of the Community of the Lady of All Nations (Army of Mary). The 6 nuns are members of the Good Shepherd Monastery of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge in Hot Springs. Sister Mary Theresa Dionne, 82, one of 6, said they will still live at the convent property, which they own. The sect believe that its 86-year-old founder, Marie Paule Giguere, is the reincarnation of the Virgin Mary.[5]
  • On April 5, 2008, as a result of "grave reservations" by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about the Mormon practice of posthumous rebaptism, Catholic dioceses throughout the world were directed not to give information in parish registers to the Mormons' Genealogical Society of Utah for microfilming or digitizing. [6]

Heads of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Grand Inquisitors


    • Unless stated otherwise, the secretaryship ended with the relevant man's death
    • From 1602 until 1965, the leading prelate of the Congregation was the Secretary, as the Pope himself presided over the congregation as its Prefect. However, the daily administration of the affairs of the Congregation was discharged by the Secretary, aided by the Acessor. Thus, unlike other Congregations, that were led by a Prefect aided by a Secretary, the Holy Office was led by a Secretary, aided by an Acessor, with the Pope as Prefect.


    • In 1965, along with changing the name of the dicastery, Pope Paul VI changed the title of the head of the Congregation from Secretary to Pro-Prefect, the Roman Pontiff retaining the role of Prefect. Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, who was then Secretary, having been appointed to lead the Holy Office in 1959, was confirmed as Pro-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


    • Since the appointment of Cardinal Franjo Šeper in 1968, the head of the dicastery has been titled Prefect. The Pope no longer holds the office of Prefect of the CDF himself.

Modern Secretaries of the CDF

    • With the reorganization of the Holy Office as the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in December 1965, the head of the Congregation was no longer titled Secretary. The dicastery's second-in-command, until then titled acessor, was then given the title of Secretary, as was already the case with the other Roman Congregations. The following Archbishops have served as the CDF's second-in-command, with the title of Secretary:

See also


External links

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