Congregation (Roman Curia)
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In the
Roman Curia The Roman Curia ( la, Romana Curia ministerium suum implent) comprises the administrative institutions of the Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome or Apostolic See, is the jurisdi ...
, a congregation ( lat, Sacræ Cardinalium Congregationes) 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
pontifical commissions
, tribunals and offices. Originally, congregations were select groups of
cardinals Cardinal or The Cardinal may refer to: Christianity * Cardinal (Catholic Church), a senior official of the Catholic Church * Cardinal (Church of England), two members of the College of Minor Canons of St. Paul's Cathedral Navigation * Cardina ...
drawn from the
College of Cardinals The College of Cardinals, or more formally the Sacred College of Cardinals, is the body of all Cardinal (Catholicism), cardinals of the Catholic Church. List of current cardinals, its current membership is 215. Cardinals are appointed by the ...
, commissioned to take care of some field of activity that concerned the
Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome or Apostolic See, is the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian ...
. Today, as a result of a decision of the
Second Vatican Council The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, commonly known as the , or , was the 21st ecumenical council An ecumenical council (or oecumenical council; also general council) is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological e ...
, members include
diocesan bishop A diocesan bishop, within various Christian traditions, is a bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. W ...
s from diverse parts of the world who are not cardinals. Each congregation also has a permanent staff. Each congregation is led by a Prefect, who is usually a cardinal.René Metz, ''Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism, Vol. 80: What is Canon Law?'' (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1960), pp. 99-101 Until recently, a non-cardinal appointed to head a congregation was styled pro-prefect until made a cardinal. This practice has been abandoned.


History and functioning

Certain curial departments have been organized by the
Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome or Apostolic See, is the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian ...
at various times to assist it in the transaction of those affairs which canonical discipline and the individual interests of the faithful bring to Rome. Of these the most important traditionally were the Roman Congregations, as is evident from the mere consideration of the dignity of their membership, comprising cardinals who assist the
pope The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, "father"), also known as the supreme pontiff () or the Roman pontiff (), is the bishop of Diocese of Rome, Rome, chief pastor of the worldwide Catholic Church, and head of state o ...

pope
in the administration of the affairs of the Church, though Cardinals have not always participated in the administration of ecclesiastical affairs in the same way.Catholic Encyclopedia
Roman Congregations
/ref> Under the current law, the dicasteries are juridically equal, but congregations generally have more direct jurisdiction than other dicasteries. Ecclesiastical business used to be handled by the pontifical chancery. However, the ever-growing number of business items and the ever-increasing complexity of the issues necessitated the creation of separate, specialised administrative-legislative bodies (the administrative and
legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure ...
functions of ecclesiastical government are not as sharply separated in the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic Church
as in a secular government with the
separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' ...
). The Roman Congregations originated from the necessity, felt from the beginning, of studying the questions submitted for pontifical decision, in order to sift the legal questions arising and to establish matters of fact duly. This work, at first entrusted to the papal chaplains, was afterwards divided between the penitentiarii and the auditores, according as questions of the internal or the external forum (i.e., jurisdiction) were to be considered. Thereafter, cardinals in greater or less number were associated with them. Often, however, they were not merely entrusted with the preparation of the case, but were given authority to decide it. An increased number of cases naturally required a greater number of persons to handle them. Moreover, efficacy and justice made it advisable and even necessary that the latter be the most experienced in a given matter, and hence the business in hand was assigned to distinct groups. This division would evidently facilitate the selection of wise and experienced men in all branches of ecclesiastical affairs. Hence also a natural division into executive cases, assigned to the offices (''officia''), judicial cases, reserved to the tribunals, and administrative cases, committed to the Roman Congregations.
Pope Sixtus V Pope Sixtus V (13 December 1521 – 27 August 1590), born Felice Piergentile, was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the , with 1.3 billion Catholics . As the world's old ...

Pope Sixtus V
was the first to distribute this administrative business among different congregations of cardinals; and in his
Apostolic Constitution An apostolic constitution ( la, constitutio apostolica) is the most solemn form of legislation Legislation is the process or product of enrolling, enacting, or promulgating Promulgation is the formal proclamation or the declaration that a ...
''
Immensa Aeterni Dei ''Immensa Aeterni Dei'' is an apostolic constitution in the form of a papal bull issued by Pope Sixtus V on 22 January 1588. The constitution reorganized the Roman Curia, establishing permanent congregation (Roman Curia), congregations of cardinal ...
'' (22 January 1588) he generalized the idea, already conceived and partly reduced to practice by some of his predecessors, of committing one or another case or a group of cases to the examination, or to the decision, of several cardinals. By a judicious division of administrative matters, he established that permanent organization of these departments of the Curia, which since then have rendered such great services to the Church. The congregations at first established by
Sixtus V Pope Sixtus V (13 December 1521 – 27 August 1590), born Felice Piergentile, was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, la ...

Sixtus V
were officially designated as * Congregation for the Holy Inquisition *Congregation for the Signature of Grace *
Congregation for the Erection of Churches and Consistorial Provisions A congregation is a large gathering of people, often for the purpose of worship Worship is an act of usually directed towards a . For many, worship is not about an emotion, it is more about a recognition of a God. An act of worship may be pe ...
*
Congregation for the Abundance of Supplies and Prosperity of the Church's Temporal Dominions A congregation is a large gathering of people, often for the purpose of worship Worship is an act of usually directed towards a . For many, worship is not about an emotion, it is more about a recognition of a God. An act of worship may be pe ...
* Congregation for Sacred Rites and Ceremonies *
Congregation for Equipping the Fleet and Maintaining It for the Defence of the Church's Dominions A congregation is a large gathering of people, often for the purpose of worship Worship is an act of religion, religious wikt:devotion, devotion usually directed towards a deity. For many, worship is not about an emotion, it is more about a reco ...
*
Congregation for an Index of Forbidden Books The ''Index Librorum Prohibitorum'' ("List of Prohibited Books") was a list of publications deemed heretical Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beli ...
*
Congregation for the Execution and Interpretation of the Council of Trent A congregation is a large gathering of people, often for the purpose of worship. Congregation may also refer to: *Church (congregation), a Christian organization meeting in a particular place for worship *Congregation (Roman Curia), an administra ...
*
Congregation for Relieving the Ills of the States of the Church A congregation is a large gathering of people, often for the purpose of worship. Congregation may also refer to: *Church (congregation), a Christian organization meeting in a particular place for worship *Congregation (Roman Curia), an administra ...
*
Congregation for the University of the Roman study , type = Congregation , seal = Coat of arms Holy See.svg , seal_size = 100px , seal_caption = Coat of arms of the Holy See , logo = , picture =Via della Conciliazione din Roma1.jpg , picture_caption = Palazzo delle Congregazioni in Piazza P ...
(or school) * Congregation for Regulations of Religious Orders *Congregation for Bishops, Congregation for Regulations of Bishops and Other Prelates *Congregation for Taking Care of Roads, Bridges, and Waters *Congregation for the Vatican Printing-Press *Congregation for Regulations of the Affairs of the Church's Temporal Dominions While the chief end of the Congregations of Cardinals was to assist the sovereign pontiff in the administration of the affairs of the Church, some of these congregations were created to assist in the administration of the temporal Papal States, States of the Holy See. The number of these varied according to circumstances and the requirements of the moment; in the time of Cardinal De Luca there were about nineteen of them, as he tells in his "Relatio Romanæ Curiæ forensis", without counting other congregations of a lower order, consisting of prelates, as were, for example, the "Congregatio baronum et montium" and the "Congregatio computorum".


Reform of Pius X

Other congregations were added by different popes, until a complete organization was established by Pope Pius X in his Constitution ''Sapienti Consilio'' of 29 June 1908, according to which there were thirteen congregations, counting that of the Propaganda as only one; however, the last-named congregation is divided into two parts: Congregation of the Propaganda for Affairs of the Latin Rite, and Congregation of the Propaganda for Affairs of the Oriental Rites, it may well be considered as two congregations, so that the total number of the congregations is fourteen. Sixtus V granted ordinary jurisdiction to each of the congregations which he instituted within the limits of the cases assigned to it, reserving to himself and to his successors the presidency of some of the more important congregations, such as the Congregation of the Holy Inquisition and that of the Signature of Grace. As time went on, the congregations of cardinals, which at first dealt exclusively with administrative matters, came to pass upon the legal points of the cases submitted to them, until the congregations overshadowed the ecclesiastical tribunals and even the Roman Rota, in fact almost taking their places. In time the transaction of business was impeded by the accumulation of jurisdictions, different congregations exercising jurisdiction rendering decisions and enacting laws in the same matters; Pius X resolved to define the competency of each congregation more precisely and to provide otherwise for the better exercise of its functions. On 29 June 1908, with the constitution Sapienti Consilio, Pope Pius X reduced the number of the congregations to 11. They were: *Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Holy Office *Congregation for Bishops, Consistorial Congregation *Congregation for the Sacraments, Sacraments *Congregation for the Council, Council *Congregation for Religious, Religious *Congregation for Propaganda, Propaganda *Congregation for Rites, Rites *Congregation for Ceremonial, Ceremonial *Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs *Congregation for Seminaries and Universities, Seminaries and Universities *Congregation for the Eastern Church, Eastern Church All decisions of the sacred congregations require pontifical approval, unless special powers have been given previously by the pope. The officials of the congregations are divided into two classes: minor officers, who are to be chosen by competitive examination and named by a letter of the Cardinal-prefect, and major officers, freely selected by the pope, and named by a note of the Cardinal Secretary of State. There is to be henceforth no cumulation of offices in the hands of one individual, not only to satisfy the requirements of distributive justice, but also because the tenure of several offices by the same person often results in detriment to the service. Wherefore, it is forbidden for an officer of one of the congregations to serve in any way as an agent, or as a procurator or advocate, in his own department or in any other ecclesiastical tribunal. The competency of the 'congresso' in each congregation is determined. The congresso consists of the major officers under the presidency of the cardinal who presides over the congregation. It deals with the matters of less importance among those that are before the congregation, while those of greater moment must be referred to the full congregations of cardinals. It is also the business of the congresso to prepare for their discussion those matters that are to be considered by the full congregation. On the other hand, the congresso is charged with the execution of the orders of the full congregation that have received the approval of the pope. As examples of matters of greater importance which must be considered by the full congregation, the special rules (''normæ peculiares'') mention the solution of doubts or of questions that may arise in regard to the interpretation of ecclesiastical laws, the examination of important administrative controversies and kindred matters. The normæ peculiares and the ''normæ communes'', together with the Constitution "Sapienti Consilio", constituted the entire code of Pius' organization of the Roman ecclesiastical departments.


Reform of Paul VI

Following the
Second Vatican Council The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, commonly known as the , or , was the 21st ecumenical council An ecumenical council (or oecumenical council; also general council) is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological e ...
, Pope Paul VI implemented many of the changes called for in the Curia with his Constitution ''Regimini Ecclesiae Universae'' of 15 August 1967. One of the main changes brought about by Paul VI was the admission of diocesan bishops and archbishops as members of the Congregations, which has previously been restricted to cardinals.


Reform of John Paul II

The most recent reorganization of the Roman Congregations came with Pope John Paul II's Constitution ''Pastor Bonus'', issued June 28, 1988. This constitution more closely aligned the structure of the Curia with the norms established by the 1983 Code of Canon Law and the early drafts of what became the 1990 ''Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches''. ''Pastor Bonus'' also continued Paul's expansion of the membership of congregations, allowing priests, deacons, the religious and the laity to be members of certain congregations and establishing consultors, experts appointed to the dicasteries of the Roman Curia to provide opinions, either singly or collectively, for particular issues when required. Sr. Luzia Premoli, superior general of the Combonian Missionary Sisters, was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in 2014, thus becoming the first woman to be appointed a member of a Vatican congregation.


Current congregations

Since 1988, there have been nine Congregations:


See also

* Agents of Roman Congregations


References


External links


The Roman Curia - Congregations


- Catholic Encyclopedia article {{Holy See Congregations of the Roman Curia, 01 Catholic organizations established in the 16th century