|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, 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,[a] it is informally known in many Catholic countries as the Holy Office (Latin: Sanctum Officium), and between 1908 and 1965 was officially known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office.
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. However, it has also been agreed that changes to the Congregation will only reform Catholic missions and not affect Catholic doctrine.
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 "to maintain and defend the integrity of the faith and to examine and proscribe errors and false doctrines."|
|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.|
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.
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 four sections: the doctrinal, disciplinary, matrimonial, and clerical offices. The CDF holds biennial plenary assemblies, and issues documents on doctrinal, disciplinary, and sacramental questions that occasionally include notifications concerning books by Catholic theologians (e.g., Hans Küng, Charles Curran, and Leonardo Boff) that it judges contrary to Church doctrine.
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."
|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. 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)
|2||Giacomo Savelli||1577||1587||Gregory XIII|
|3||Giulio Antonio Santori||1587||1602||Sixtus V|
(elected as Pope Paul V)
|6||Giovanni Garzia Millini||1612||1629||Paul V|
|7||Antonio Marcello Barberini||1629||1633
|8||Francesco Barberini||1633||1679||Urban VIII|
|9||Cesare Facchinetti||1680||1683||Innocent XI|
|10||Alderano Cybo||1683||1700||Innocent XI|
|12||Fabrizio Spada||1716||1717||Clement XI|
|13||Nicolò Acciaioli||1717||1719||Clement XI|
|14||Francesco del Giudice||1719||1725||Clement XI|
|15||Fabrizio Paolucci||1725||1726||Benedict XIII|
|16||Pietro Ottoboni||1726||1740||Benedict XIII|
|18||Neri Maria Corsini||1753||1770||Benedict XIV|
|19||Giovanni Francesco Stoppani||1770||1774||Clement XIV|
|20||Luigi Maria Torregiani||1775||1777||Pius VI|
|21||Carlo Rezzonico||1777||1799||Pius VI|
|23||Giulio Maria della Somaglia||1814||1830||Pius VII|
|24||Bartolomeo Pacca||1830||1844||Gregory XVI|
|25||Vincenzo Macchi||1844||1860||Gregory XVI|
|26||Costantino Patrizi Naro||1860||1876||Pius IX|
|27||Prospero Caterini||1876||1881||Pius IX|
|28||Antonio Maria Panebianco||1882||1883||Leo XIII|
|29||Luigi Bilio, CRSP||1883||1884||Leo XIII|
|30||Raffaele Monaco La Valletta||1884||1896||Leo XIII|
|31||Lucido Parocchi||1896||1903||Leo XIII|
|33||Mariano Rampolla||1908||1913||Pius X|
|34||Domenico Ferrata||3 January 1914||10 October 1914||Pius X|
|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||Pius XI|
|38||Giuseppe Pizzardo||16 February 1951||12 October 1959||Pius XII|
|39||Alfredo Ottaviani||7 November 1959||7 December 1965
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|
|2||Franjo ?eper||8 January 1968[e]||25 November 1981||Paul VI|
|3||Joseph Ratzinger||25 November 1981||2 April 2005[f]||John Paul II|
|4||William Levada||13 May 2005||2 July 2012||Benedict XVI|
|5||Gerhard Ludwig Müller||2 July 2012||2 July 2017||Benedict XVI|
|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: