|Latin: Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei|
Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio, seat of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
|Formed||July 21, 1542|
|Headquarters||Palazzo del Sant'Uffizio,|
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF; Latin: Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei) is the oldest among the nine congregations of the Roman Curia. Its seat is 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 called the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition,[a] and then between 1908 and 1965 the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, it is still informally known in many Catholic countries as the Holy Office (Latin: Sanctum Officium).
Founded by Pope Paul III in 1542, the congregation's sole objective is to "spread sound Catholic doctrine and defend those points of Christian tradition which seem in danger because of new and unacceptable doctrines." Its headquarters are at the Palace of the Holy Office, just outside Vatican City. The congregation employs an advisory board including cardinals, bishops, priests, lay theologians, and canon lawyers. The current Prefect is Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, who was appointed by Pope Francis for a five-year term beginning July 2017.
Pope Francis has planned a reorganization of the Curia that will alter the role of this Congregation. A final draft of his apostolic constitution on the Roman Curia, titled Praedicate Evangelium (“Preach the Gospel”), has been submitted for comment to national bishops’ conferences and a variety of other bodies. The anticipated changes to the Congregation arise from Francis' emphasis on the Church's missionary role and will likely result in a lesser role for this dicastery focused on Catholic doctrine.
Further information: Roman Inquisition
On 21 July 1542, Pope Paul III proclaimed the Apostolic Constitution Licet ab initio, establishing 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 Pius X. In many Catholic countries, the body is often informally called the Holy Office (e.g., Italian: Sant'Uffizio and Spanish: Santo Oficio).
The congregation's name was changed to Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (SCDF) on 7 December 1965, at the end of the Second Vatican Council. Soon after the 1983 Code of Canon Law came into effect, the adjective "sacred" was dropped from the names of all Curial Congregations,[b] and so the dicastery adopted its current name, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
|1542||Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition is established|
|1622||Pope Gregory XV writes a letter addressing the issue of priests abusing the confessional to solicit "shameful and dishonorable conduct". The letter is referenced in Sacramentum Poenitentiae (1741).|
|1665||The General Congregation of the Universal Inquisition, in the presence of Pope Alexander VII, reiterates that propositions by confessors to solicit or provoke sex from penitents are "alien and discordant by the Evangelical truth and clearly so by the sixth and seventh doctrines of the Holy Fathers" and are to be "checked, condemned, and prohibited. […] The Inquisitors of Heretical Depravity […] [should] seek out and proceed against everyone – every priest […] who has essayed to tempt a penitent."|
|1908||The Inquisition is renamed Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office by Pope Pius X.|
|1965||The Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office is renamed Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (SCDF).|
|1985||All dicasteries of the Roman Curia no longer use the adjective "sacred" as part of their title. The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith becomes the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).|
|1988||Pope John Paul II reaffirms the authority of the CDF on 28 June: "The proper duty of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is to promote and safeguard the doctrine on faith and morals in the whole Catholic world; so it has competence in things that touch this matter in any way."|
|2001||John Paul II issues Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela "by which are promulgated Norms concerning the more grave delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith." It, again, reaffirms the CDF's responsibilities, expressing that it was necessary to define more precisely both "the more grave delicts whether against morals or committed in the celebration of the sacraments" for which the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith remains exclusive, and also the special procedural norms "for declaring or imposing canonical sanctions."|
|2014||On 11 November Pope Francis sets up within the CDF a special body to expedite consideration of appeals by priests against laicization or other penalties imposed on them in cases of sexual abuse.|
|2015||Francis establishes an ecclesiastical judicial commission, which will have its own staff and secretary, to try bishops, which will work with other units of the CDF and with the congregation that has oversight over the bishop.|
|2018||Francis appoints three women as consultors to the Congregation, the first in its history.|
|2019||The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei is merged into the Congregation.|
|2022||On 14 February 2022, Francis reorganises the CDF through the motu proprio Fidem servare, dividing it into two departments: a doctrinal section and a disciplinary section, each with its own secretary reporting to the prefect. The formerly independent marriage section is merged into the doctrinal section.|
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According to the 1988 Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Pastor bonus, article 48, promulgated by John Paul II: "The proper duty of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is to promote and safeguard the doctrine on faith and morals in the whole Catholic world; so it has competence in things that touch this matter in any way."
This includes investigations into grave delicts, i.e., acts which the Catholic Church considers as being the most serious crimes: crimes against the Eucharist and against the sanctity of the Sacrament of Penance, and crimes against the sixth Commandment ("Thou shall not commit adultery.") committed by a cleric against a person under the age of eighteen. These crimes, in Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela a motu proprio of 2001, come under the competency of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In effect, it is the "promoter of justice" which deals with, among other things, the question of priests accused of paedophilia.[c]
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.
On 7 December 2021, Pope Francis promulgated a new version of the "Norms on the Delicts Reserved to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith"; the original version had been first promulgated in 2001 by John Paul II and amended in 2010 by Benedict XVI. The changes of the new version concern "harmonising the norms with the revised Book VI of the Code of Canon Law, which was promulgated in May 2021" and adding "numerous normative measures of various kinds issued in previous years, especially since 2016."
Until 1968, the pope held the title of prefect and appointed a cardinal 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 and the title of Secretary refers to the second highest-ranking officer of the Congregation. As of 2012 the Congregation had a membership of 18 cardinals and a smaller number of non-cardinal bishops, a staff of 38 (clerical and lay) and 26 consultors.
The work of the CDF is divided into two sections, the doctrinal and the disciplinary. The CDF holds biennial plenary assemblies, and issues documents on doctrinal, disciplinary, and sacramental questions that occasionally include notifications concerning writings by Catholic theologians.
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The following is a list of recent documents and judgments issued by the CDF. Lengthy CDF documents usually have Latin titles. A short document that briefly states objections to one or more writings by a Catholic theologian is typically called a "notification."
"Responsum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to a dubium regarding the blessing of the unions of persons of the same sex", wherein the Church reaffirmed the view that "Church does not have, and cannot have, the power to bless unions of persons of the same sex" (15 March 2021).
|Prefect of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith|
|Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith|
|Member of||Roman Curia|
|Reports to||The Pope|
|Term length||Five years, renewable|
|Constituting instrument||Licet ab initio|
|Formation||21 July 1542|
|First holder||Antonio Michele Ghislieri|
When the Supreme Sacred Congregation for the Roman and Universal Inquisition was first established in 1542, it was composed of several Cardinal Inquisitors styled as "Inquisitors-General", who were formally equal to each other, even if some of them were clearly dominant (e.g. Cardinal Gian Pietro Carafa from 1542, who was elected Pope Paul IV in 1555). Until 1968 the Pope himself presided over the Congregation. However, from 1564 the daily administration of the affairs of the Congregation was entrusted to the Cardinal Secretary.: 19–26 This model was retained when the Inquisition was formally renamed as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office in 1908.
Unless stated otherwise, the secretaryship ended with the officeholder's death.
|1||Antonio Michele Ghislieri
(elected as Pope Pius V): 118
|2||Giacomo Savelli: 118||31 July 1577||5 December 1587||Gregory XIII|
|3||Giulio Antonio Santori: 118||5 December 1587||9 May 1602||Sixtus V|
(elected as Pope Paul V): 118
|9 June 1603||16 May 1605||Clement VIII|
|5||Pompeio Arrigoni: 118||16 May 1605||4 April 1616||Paul V|
|6||Giovanni Garzia Millini||4 April 1616||2 October 1629: 118|
|7||Antonio Marcello Barberini||2 October 1629||1 December 1633||Urban VIII|
|8||Francesco Barberini||1 December 1633||10 December 1679|
|9||Cesare Facchinetti||10 December 1679||31 January 1683||Innocent XI|
|10||Alderano Cybo||31 January 1683||22 July 1700|
|11||Galeazzo Marescotti||22 July 1700||1 January 1716||Innocent XII|
|12||Fabrizio Spada||1 January 1716||15 June 1717||Clement XI|
|13||Nicolò Acciaioli||15 June 1717||23 February 1719|
|14||Francesco del Giudice||25 February 1719||10 October 1725|
|15||Fabrizio Paolucci||10 October 1725||12 June 1726||Benedict XIII|
|16||Pietro Ottoboni||14 June 1726||29 February 1740|
|17||Tommaso Ruffo||29 August 1740||16 February 1753||Benedict XIV|
|18||Neri Maria Corsini||26 February 1753||6 December 1770|
|19||Giovanni Francesco Stoppani||12 December 1770||18 November 1774||Clement XIV|
|20||Luigi Maria Torregiani||22 February 1775||6 January 1777||Pius VI|
|21||Carlo Rezzonico||17 January 1777||26 January 1799|
|22||Leonardo Antonelli||8 November 1800||23 January 1811||Pius VII|
|23||Giulio Maria della Somaglia||20 May 1814||2 April 1830|
|24||Bartolomeo Pacca||5 April 1830||19 April 1844||Pius VIII|
|25||Vincenzo Macchi||25 April 1844||30 September 1860||Gregory XVI|
|26||Costantino Patrizi Naro||10 October 1860||17 December 1876||Pius IX|
|27||Prospero Caterini||21 December 1876||28 October 1881|
|28||Antonio Maria Panebianco||30 March 1882||25 January 1883||Leo XIII|
|29||Luigi Maria Bilio, CRSP||25 January 1883||30 January 1884|
|30||Raffaele Monaco La Valletta||15 February 1884||14 July 1896|
|31||Lucido Maria Parocchi||5 August 1896||15 January 1903|
|32||Serafino Vannutelli||16 January 1903||30 December 1908[d]|
|33||Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro||30 December 1908||16 December 1913||Pius X|
|34||Domenico Ferrata||3 January 1914||10 October 1914|
|35||Rafael Merry del Val||14 October 1914||26 February 1930||Benedict XV|
|36||Donato Sbarretti||4 July 1930||1 April 1939||Pius XI|
|37||Francesco Marchetti-Selvaggiani||30 April 1939||13 January 1951|
|38||Giuseppe Pizzardo||16 February 1951||12 October 1959||Pius XII|
|39||Alfredo Ottaviani||7 November 1959||7 December 1965||John XXIII|
When Pope Paul VI changed the name of the dicastery on 7 December 1965, he changed the title of the cardinal in charge of the daily administration of the Congregation from Secretary to Pro-Prefect. He continued to reserve the title of Prefect to himself until 1968 when he relinquished his role as head of the Congregation and named a Prefect.
|7 December 1965||6 January 1968||Paul VI|
|8 January 1968[f]||25 November 1981|
|25 November 1981||2 April 2005[g]||John Paul II|
|13 May 2005||2 July 2012||Benedict XVI|
|5||Gerhard Ludwig Müller
|2 July 2012||2 July 2017|
|6||Luis Ladaria Ferrer, SJ
|2 July 2017||Incumbent||Francis|
With the December 1965 reorganization of the Holy Office as the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the head of the Congregation was no longer titled Secretary. The dicastery's second-in-command, until then titled assessor, was then given the title of Secretary, as was already the case with the other Roman Congregations. The following Archbishops have held the title of Secretary:
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