The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura is the highest judicial authority in the Catholic Church. In addition, it oversees the administration of justice in the Church; the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura is Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, who had replaced Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke. The Secretary is Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca; the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura is housed in the Italian Renaissance-era Palazzo della Cancelleria in Rome, the headquarters and meeting place of the Roman Catholic Church's other two Tribunals. The Apostolic Signatura only hears appeals from these two tribunals if some process was in error or there is an inter-agency conflict, not in regard to the judgment, made or the merits of the case; the two other Tribunals located there are the Sacred Roman Rota, the Apostolic Penitentiary. The Roman Rota is the ordinary appellate tribunal of the Apostolic See; the Signatura's competence covers: complaints of nullity and petitions for total reinstatement against sentences of the Roman Rota.
Apart from these judicial matters, the Signatura has competence as an administrative tribunal to deal with controversies over administrative decisions made by or approved by departments of the Roman Curia if it is contended that the decision violated some law, either in the decision-making process or in the procedure used. It can deal with administrative controversies referred to it by the Pope or those departments, with conflicts of competence between the departments. A third field of competence for the Signatura is that of overseeing all the tribunals of the Catholic Church, with power to extend the jurisdiction of tribunals, to grant dispensations from procedural laws, to establish interdiocesan tribunals, to discipline canonical advocates; the Cardinal Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura serves ex officio as the President of the Supreme Court of Vatican City. The two other members of the Supreme Court are Cardinals of the Apostolic Signatura and are chosen by the Cardinal Prefect on a yearly basis.
In the thirteenth century the Popes made use of "referendarii" to investigate and prepare the signing - hence the name signatura - of petitions and other cases presented to the Holy See. Pope Eugene IV entrusted these referendaries with authority to sign certain petitions and thereby established a permanent office for this purpose. Under Popes Alexander VI, Sixtus IV and Julius II this office was divided into two, the Signatura gratiae for examining petitions for favours, the Signatura iustitiae for contentious cases; the honourable office of referendary came to be conferred as a honorary title, but Pope Sixtus V put a limit on their number, Pope Alexander VII combined the limited number of voting referendaries into a college, assisted by the simple referendaries, who had only a consultative position. The Signatura gratiae lost its functions to other bodies, the growth of the work of the Roman Rota, the foundation of the Congregations of Cardinals resulted in the Signatura iustitiae becoming a Supreme Court of the Papal States.
On 29 June 1908, Pope Pius X reestablished a single Apostolic Signatura consisting of six cardinals, one of whom acted as its prefect. On 28 June 1915, Pope Benedict XV reconstituted the college of the voting referendaries and simple referendaries with consultative functions and the 1917 Code of Canon Law removed the limitation of the number of cardinals members of this Supreme Tribunal; the present competence of the Apostolic Signatura is that laid down in the apostolic constitution Pastor Bonus of 28 June 1988. Vincenzo Vannutelli Michele Lega Augusto Silj Francesco Ragonesi Bonaventura Cerretti Enrico Gasparri Massimo Massimi Giuseppe Bruno Gaetano Cicognani Francesco Roberti Dino Staffa Pericle Felici Aurelio Sabattani Achille Silvestrini Gilberto Agustoni Zenon Grocholewski Mario Francesco Pompedda Agostino Vallini Raymond Leo Burke Dominique Mamberti The members of the Apostolic Signatura are:Cardinals Dominique Mamberti, Prefect Agostino Vallini, Prefect Emeritus Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect Emeritus Béchara Boutros Raï Antonio Maria Rouco Varela Zenon Grocholewski Attilio Nicor
The Apostolic Penitentiary called the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary, is one of the three tribunals of the Roman Curia. The Apostolic Penitentiary is chiefly a tribunal of mercy, responsible for issues relating to the forgiveness of sins in the Catholic Church; the Apostolic Penitentiary has jurisdiction only over matters in the internal forum. Its work falls into these categories: the absolution of excommunications latæ sententiæ reserved to the Holy See, the dispensation of sacramental impediments reserved to the Holy See, the issuance and governance of indulgences; the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Major Penitentiary, is one of the few Vatican officials who retain their positions sede vacante. If the Major Penitentiary is a Cardinal Elector he is one of only three persons in the conclave allowed to communicate with those outside the conclave, so that he can continue to fulfill his duties; the Major Penitentiary is a Titular Archbishop and is a Cardinal. Since 21 September 2013, the Major Penitentiary is Cardinal Mauro Piacenza.
The second-highest-ranking official in the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Regent, is H. E. Msgr. Krzysztof Józef Nykiel. In the Papal Bull Misericordiae Vultus, Pope Francis decreed that the Church would observe a Special Jubilee Year of Mercy lasting from the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Tuesday, December 8, 2015, until the Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King of the Universe on the last Sunday before Advent, in November 2016. For this, he allowed certain qualified priests serve as "Missionaries of Mercy" to each Diocese, with the faculties to absolve sins that are reserved to the Holy See through the Apostolic Penitentiary. A priest or a bishop would not be able to do this unless the person was in danger of imminent death; the Pope has the power, as the earthly absolute sovereign of the Catholic Church, to make this special change for the year. Up until the 18th century, the Apostolic Penitentiary considered cases of confessor-penitent disputes involving violations against what was termed the "external forum".
For heinous sins, or for serious sins committed by penitents of high political or cultural standing, it was the practice to impose rather harsh penances. This practice was true in the medieval Church, for sins referred to a bishop for absolution. If a penitent felt that the penance imposed was disproportionate to the sins committed, he could submit the dispute to the Apostolic Penitentiary; the alleged offense was said to be against the "external forum". If the tribunal decided in favor of the penitent, they would issue a formal statement confirming that appropriate recompense had been made, that the penitent's sins were forgiven, that the matter was closed; these statements were transcribed by legal clerks, who were paid by fees assessed by Apostolic Penitentiary for the transcription of their decisions. This practice prompted claims that the tribunal, by extension the Church, accepted money for the forgiveness of sins. Confessions of sins are handled at the local level by priests and their bishops and are not heard by the tribunal.
The work of the Apostolic Penitentiary involves sins, such as defiling the Eucharist, which are reserved to the Holy See. In late 2006 Major Penitentiary Cardinal Stafford said this offense is occurring with more and more frequency, by ordinary faithful who receive Communion and remove the host from their mouths and spit it out or otherwise desecrate it. Other sins that are handled by the Penitentiary include a priest breaking the seal of the confessional by revealing the nature of the sin and the person who sought penance, or a priest who has sex with someone and offered forgiveness for the act; these sins bring automatic excommunication from the Church. Once the excommunication is lifted absolution can be granted. A fourth type of case that comes to the tribunal involves a man who has contributed towards facilitating an abortion, such as by paying for it, or directly so by performing one, who seeks to become a priest or deacon. Persons who wish to receive an absolution or dispensation reserved to the Holy See write a petition to the Penitentiary.
This petition is written through their initial confessor. The petition must use pseudonyms when explaining the situation to avoid revealing the identity of the persons involved, the tribunal itself acts in complete secrecy; the Major Penitentiary considers the matter himself, unless it is important, in which case the whole of the tribunal considers the petition. The members of the tribunal only give advice regarding the petition—the Major Penitentiary has the ultimate decision on whether the dispensation or absolution should be granted. If the Major Penitentiary is uncertain as to whether he has authority in a given case, he submits the matter to the Pope; the impediment or act in question must not be public, as it would be a matter of the external forum and cannot be absolved or dispensed by the Penitentiary. The Apostolic Penitentiary specifies actions for which indulgences are granted, either permanently or on special occasions, such as the Year for Priests, during which a plenary indulgence is granted, on 19 June 2009, on first Thursdays, on 4 August 2009, on 19 June 201
Secretariat of State (Holy See)
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, since 2017, the Section for Diplomatic Staff. The origins of the Secretariat of State go back to the fifteenth century; the apostolic constitution Non Debet Reprehensibile of 31 December 1487 established the Secretaria Apostolica comprising twenty-four Apostolic Secretaries, one of whom bore the title Secretarius Domesticus and held a position of pre-eminence. One can trace to this Secretaria Apostolica the Chancery of Briefs, the Secretariat of Briefs to Princes and the Secretariat of Latin Letters. Pope Leo X established another position, the Secretarius Intimus, to assist the Cardinal who had control of the affairs of State and to attend to correspondence in languages other than Latin, chiefly with the Apostolic Nuncios.
From these beginnings, the Secretariat of State developed at the time of the Council of Trent. For a long time, the Secretarius Intimus called Secretarius Papae or Secretarius Maior, was always a prelate endowed with episcopal rank, it was only at the beginning of the pontificate of Innocent X that someone a Cardinal and not a member of the Pope's family was called to this high office. Pope Innocent XII definitively abolished the office of Cardinal Nephew, the powers of that office were assigned to the Cardinal Secretary of State alone. On 19 July 1814, Pope Pius VII established the Sacred Congregation for the Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, expanding the Congregatio super negotiis ecclesiasticis Regni Galliarum established by Pius VI in 1793. With the apostolic constitution Sapienti Consilio of 29 June 1908, Saint Pius X divided the Sacred Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs in the form fixed by the Codex Iuris Canonici of 1917 and he specified the duties of each of the three sections: the first was concerned with extraordinary affairs, while the second attended to the ordinary affairs, the third, until an independent body, had the duty of preparing and dispatching pontifical Briefs.
With the apostolic constitution Regimini Ecclesiae universae of 15 August 1967, Pope Paul VI reformed the Roman Curia, implementing the desire expressed by the bishops in the Second Vatican Council. This gave a new face to the Secretariat of State, suppressing the Chancery of Apostolic Briefs the third section, transforming the former first section, the Sacred Congregation for the Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, into a body distinct from the Secretariat of State, though related to it, to be known as the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church. On 28 June 1988, John Paul II promulgated the apostolic constitution Pastor bonus, which introduced a reform of the Roman Curia and divided the Secretariat of State into two sections: the Section for General Affairs and the Section for Relations with States, which incorporated the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church. Pope Francis added a third unit, the Section for Diplomatic Staff, in November 2017; the head of the Secretariat of State is the Secretary of State, a cardinal.
The Cardinal Secretary of State is responsible for the diplomatic and political activity of the Holy See, in some circumstances representing the Pope himself. The Section for General Affairs handles the normal operations of the Church including organizing the activities of the Roman Curia, making appointments to curial offices, publishing official communications, papal documents, handling the concerns of embassies to the Holy See, keeping the papal seal and Fisherman's Ring. Abroad, the Section for General Affairs is responsible for organizing the activities of nuncios around the world in their activities concerning the local church; the Section for General Affairs is headed by an archbishop known as the Substitute for General Affairs, or more formally, Substitute for General Affairs to the Secretary of State. The current Substitute for General Affairs to the Secretary of State is Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra. There have been 10 substitutes since 1953: Nicola Canali Federico Tedeschini Giovanni Battista Montini Angelo Dell'Acqua Giovanni Benelli Giuseppe Caprio Eduardo Martínez Somalo Edward Idris Cassidy Giovanni Battista Re Leonardo Sandri Fernando Filoni Giovanni Angelo Becciu Edgar Peña Parra The deputy to the Substitute for General Affairs deputy chief of staff, is called the Assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State.
The current Assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State is Monsignor Paolo Borgia. Eduardo Martínez Somalo Giovanni Battista Re Crescenzio Sepe Leonardo Sandri James Michael Harvey Pedro Lopez Quintana Gabriele Giordano Caccia Peter Bryan Wells Paolo Borgia (4 March
Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church
The Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church was an institution within the Roman Curia of the Catholic Church that presided over the guardianship of the historical and artistic patrimony of the entire Church -, to say, works of art, historical documents and everything kept in ecclesiastical museums as well as in ecclesiastical libraries and archives. It collaborated with the particular Churches and with national episcopal conferences in the conservation of this patrimony, was charged with promoting an greater awareness in the Church about these riches. Pursuant to the reorganisation of the Roman Curia carried out by Pope John Paul II by his Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus of 1988, there was erected within the Congregation for the Clergy a Pontifical Commission for Preserving the Patrimony of Art and History. By the Apostolic Letter given Motu Proprio Inde a pontificatus, Pope John Paul II renamed it the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church and established it as an autonomous body independent of the Congregation for the Clergy, with its own President, to be a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture so as to ensure a proper coordination of the activities of the two bodies.
By his Apostolic Letter given Motu Proprio Pulchritudinis fidei, Pope Benedict XVI recognised the convergence of the role and functions of these two bodies and suppressed the Commission, transferring its former objectives and activities to the Pontifical Council for Culture. Antonio Innocenti Francesco Marchisano Mauro Piacenza Gianfranco Ravasi Pontifical Commission Commission official website
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the oldest among the nine congregations of the Roman Curia. It was founded to defend the church from heresy. Known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, it is informally known in many Catholic countries as the Holy Office, between 1908 and 1965 was 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, priests, lay theologians, canon lawyers; the current Prefect is Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, appointed by Pope Francis for a five-year term beginning July 2017. 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 informally called the Holy Office; the congregation's name was changed to Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith 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, so the dicastery adopted its current name, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 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; 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, crimes against the sixth Commandment 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. Within the CDF are the International Theological Commission, the Pontifical Biblical Commission, 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 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 and 26 consultors. The work of the CDF is divided into four sections: the doctrinal, disciplinary and clerical offices.
The CDF holds biennial plenary assemblies, issues documents on doctrinal and sacramental questions that include notifications concerning books by Catholic theologians that it judges contrary to Church doctrine. The following is a list of recent documents and judgments issued by the CDF. Lengthy CDF documents have Latin titles. A short document that states objections to one or more writings by a Catholic theologian is called a "notification." "Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious" – "Note on the banalization of sexuality, Regarding certain interpretations of Light of the World" "Circular Letter to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences regarding the association Opus Angelorum" Dignitas Personae On 5 April 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.
"Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization" On 28 September 2007, Gaston Hebert, the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Little Rock, stated that six Arkansas nuns were excommunicated for heresy. They refused to recant the doctrines of the Community of the Lady of All Nations; the 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 the six, said they will still live at the convent property, which they own; the se
Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in Rome is the congregation of the Roman Curia responsible for missionary work and related activities. It is better known by its former title, the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, or the Propaganda Fide. In principle it is responsible for pre-diocesan missionary jurisdictions: Mission sui iuris, Apostolic prefecture Apostolic vicariate; however many former missionary jurisdictions -mainly in the Third World- remain, after promotion to diocese of Archdiocese, under the Propaganda Fide instead of the competent Congregation for the Bishops, notably in countries/regions where the Catholic church is too poor/ small to aspire self-sufficiency and/or local authorities hostile to Catholic/Christian/any faith. It was founded by Pope Gregory XV in 1622 to arrange missionary work on behalf of the various religious institutions, in 1627 Pope Urban VIII established within it a training college for missionaries, the Pontificio Collegio Urbano de Propaganda Fide.
When Pope Paul VI reorganized and adjusted the tasks of the Roman Curia with the publication of Regimini Ecclesiae Universae on August 15, 1967, the name of the congregation was changed to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The early Congregation was established in the Palazzo Ferratini, donated by Juan Bautista Vives, to the south of the Piazza di Spagna. Two of the foremost artistic figures of Baroque Rome were involved in the development of the architectural complex; the current Prefect of the Congregation is Cardinal Fernando Filoni. The current Secretary is Archbishop Protase Rugambwa; the current Secretary is Archbishop Giampietro Del Toso The Under-Secretary is Father Ryszard Szmydki, O. M. I; the Archivist of the Archives of the Congregation is Monsignor Luis Manuel Cuña Ramos. Monsignors Lorenzo Piva and Camillus Nimalan Johnpillai assist as Office Heads of the Congregation. Founded in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV's bull Inscrutabili Divinae, the body was charged with fostering the spread of Catholicism and with the regulation of Catholic ecclesiastical affairs in non-Catholic countries.
The intrinsic importance of its duties and the extraordinary extent of its authority and of the territory under its jurisdiction caused the Cardinal Prefect of Propaganda to be known as the "red pope". At the time of its inception, the expansion of colonial administrations was coming to be in Dutch and English hands, both Protestant countries intent on spreading these religious doctrines, Rome perceived the real threat of Protestantism spreading in the wake of commercial empire. By 1648, with the end of the Thirty Years' War, the official religious balance of established Christianity in Europe was permanently stabilized, but new fields for evangelization were offered by vast regions of Asia and the Americas being explored. There had been a less formally instituted cardinal committee concerned with propaganda fide since the time of Pope Gregory XIII, which were charged with promoting the union with Rome of the long-established eastern Christian communities: Slavs, Syrians and Abyssinians; this was the traditional direction for the Catholic Church to look for evangelizing.
Catechisms were printed in many seminarians sent to places as far as Malabar. The most concrete result was the union with Rome of the Ruthenian Catholic communion, most concentrated in modern-day Ukraine and Belarus; the death of Gregory XV the following year did not interrupt the organization, because Cardinal Barberini, one of the original thirteen members of the congregation, became the next pope as Urban VIII. Under Urban VIII, a central seminary was set up for training missionaries; the Congregation operated the polyglot printing press in Rome, printing catechisms in many languages. Their procurators were active in China from 1705, moving between Macau and Canton before settling in Hong Kong in 1842. In Protestant areas, the operations of the Congregation were considered subversive: the first missionary to be killed was in Grisons, Switzerland, in April 1622, before the papal bull authorizing its creation had been disseminated. In Ireland after Catholic emancipation while the established church was still the Protestant Church of Ireland, the Irish Catholic church came under the control of the Congregation in 1833, soon reformed itself with a devotional revolution under Cardinal Cullen.
The Holy See removed the United States from the jurisdiction of Propaganda Fide as mission territory in 1908, along with England, the Netherlands and Canada. These "Cardinals in General Congregation" met weekly, keeping their records in Latin until 1657 in Italian; the minutes are available in microfilm at large libraries. In the course of their work, the Propaganda fide missionaries accumulated the objects now in the Vatican Museum's Ethnological Missionary Museum. Since 1989 the incumbent Prefect is President of the Interdicasterial Commission for Consecrated Religious. In 2014 Sr. Luzia Premoli, superior general of the Combonian Missionary Sisters, was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, thus becoming the first woman to be appointed
Holy See Press Office
The Holy See Press Office publishes the official news of the activities of the Pope and of the various departments of the Roman Curia. All speeches, documents, as well as the statements issued by the Director, are published in their entirety; the press office operates every day in Italian, although texts in other languages are available. Since August 1st 2016 the Director of the Holy See Press Office and Pope's Spokesman is the American journalist Greg Burke; the former head of the press office, with the title director, is Father Federico Lombardi, a Jesuit, while the director before Lombardi was the Spanish layman and medical doctor Joaquín Navarro-Valls. On Saturday, June 27, 2015, Pope Francis, through an apostolic letter done motu proprio established the Secretariat for Communications in the Roman Curia. On December 21, 2015, Pope Francis appointed Dr. Greg Burke the Communications Advisor for the Section for General Affairs of the Vatican's Secretariat of State of the Holy See, as Deputy Director of the Press Office.
Following Burke's appointment as director in 2016, Spanish journalist Paloma García Ovejero took over as vice director, making her the first woman to hold that position. It was announced that both Burke and García Ovejero, both laymen, would begin their positions on 1 August, 2016. On 31 December 2018, both García Ovejero announced their resignations. Vatican - Accreditation of journalists and Media operators Vatican - Daily Bulletin Holy See Index of Vatican City-related articles Official site