The Roman Curia

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The Roman Curia and other offices and services of the Holy See assist the Supreme Pontiff in the Petrine Ministry.



SECRETARIAT OF STATE
Presided over by the Secretary of State

The Secretariat of State closely assists the Supreme Pontiff in the exercise of his supreme function. The Cardinal Secretary of State presides over it. It includes two sections, namely the section for general affairs under the immediate direction of the Substitute, assisted by an Assessor, and the section for relations with states under the direction of its own Secretary, with the assistance of a Subsecretary. Attached to this latter section is a body of cardinals and some bishops.

First Section: General Affairs
Presided over by the Substitute
Assisted by the Assessor

The first section handles anything entrusted to it by the Holy Father, as well as matters of daily business which do not fall within the competence of other dicasteries. It fosters relations with these departments, with the bishops, and with the diplomatic missions of the Holy See.

Second Section: Relations with States
Presided over by the Secretary
Assisted by the Undersecretary

The second section of the Secretariat of State handles all matters pertaining to civil governments, fostering diplomatic relations with nations, and maintaining contact with all the diplomatic missions of the Holy See. It takes care also of what concerns the presence and activity of the Holy See in international institutes.


CONGREGATIONS

By the name of department (dicasteria) is understood: the congregations, tribunals, councils and offices, namely the Apostolic Camera, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, and the Prefecture of Economic Affairs of the Holy See. The departments are juridically equal among themselves. Attached to the institutes of the Roman Curia are the Prefecture of the Papal Household and the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.


Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Presided over by the Prefect
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

The proper function of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is to promote and safeguard the doctrine of faith and morals in the whole Catholic world; therefore, those things belong to it which touch this matter in any way. Fulfilling the function of promoting doctrine, it fosters studies in order that the understanding of the faith might grow and that a response can be prepared under the light of faith for new questions arising from developments in science and human culture. It is a help to bishops, whether individually or gathered in assemblies, in the exercise of the function by which they are constituted authentic teachers and doctors of the faith as well as the office by which they are held to safeguard and promote the integrity of that faith. This Sacred Congregation reproves doctrines opposed to the principles of the faith after the interested Bishops of a region have been heard. It studies the books referred to it and, if necessary, reproves them after the author has been heard and has had an opportunity to defend himself and after the Ordinary has been forewarned. It also examines whatever concerns "the privilege of the faith" whether in law and in fact. It is competent to pass judgement on errors about the faith according to the norms of an ordinary process. It safeguards the dignity of the sacrament of Penance. The Congregation proceeds administratively or judicially according to the nature of the question to be treated.


Congregation for the Oriental Churches

Presided over by the Prefect
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

This Congregation considers those matters, whether regarding persons or things, which touch on the Eastern Catholic Churches. It treats all questions which pertain either to persons, or to discipline, or to the rites of the Oriental Churches, even if they are mixed in that by the nature of the thing or of persons they involve Latins. Territories in which a major part of the Christians belong to Oriental rites are subject only to this Congregation. Even in Latin territories it carefully supervises the faithful of Oriental rites and provides as much as possible for their spiritual needs even by the establishment of their own hierarchy if the number of faithful and circumstances require this.


Congregation for Divine Worship
and the Discipline of the Sacraments

Presided over by the Prefect
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

The congregation does those things which pertain to the Apostolic See as to the moderation and promotion of the sacred liturgy, especially the sacraments, with due regard for the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  It fosters and safeguards the discipline of the sacraments, especially what pertains to their valid and licit celebration; moreover, it concedes favors and dispensations for matters which are not contained in the facilities of diocesan bishops in this line.  It alone examines the non-consummation of a marriage and the presence of causes for the granting of a dispensation and everything connected with them.  It has competence with regard to the obligations connected with major orders and it examines questions about the validity of sacred ordination.


Congregation for the Causes of Saints

Presided over by the Prefect
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints is competent in all matters which in any way pertain to the Beatification of Servants of God or to the Canonization of the Blessed or to the Preservation of Relics.


Congregation for Bishops

Presided over by the Prefect
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

Pontifical Commission for Latin America
Presided over as President ex officio by the Prefect of the Congregation
Assisted by the Vice-President of the Commission

This congregation examines what pertains to the constitution and provision of particular churches as well as the exercise of the episcopal function in the Latin Church, except for the competence of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. It belongs to the Congregation for Bishops to propose to the Roman Pontiff, for approval, the constitution of new dioceses, provinces and regions; to divide, unite and realign them after consulting the interested Episcopal Conferences; it deals also with the erection of the military ordinariates and, after consulting the Episcopal Conference, prelacies for special pastoral ministries for various regions or social groups. This Congregation provides also for the naming of bishops, apostolic administrators, coadjutors and auxiliaries of bishops, military and other vicars and prelates enjoying personal jurisdiction. It is competent for all things that have to do with bishops and publishes norms which, through the Episcopal Conference, provide for the more urgent needs of the faithful.


Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples

Presided over by the Prefect
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

It belongs to this congregation to direct and coordinate throughout the world the work of the evangelization of peoples itself and missionary cooperation, while respecting the competence of the Congregation for Eastern Churches. It is competent for those things which pertain to all the missions established for the spread of the Kingdom of Christ throughout the world and therefore for whatever is connected with the assignment and transferal of the necessary ministers, for describing ecclesiastical boundaries and proposing those who will govern them. It encourages also the development of an indigenous clergy. The congregation sponsors missionary initiatives and promotes missionary vocations and spirituality. In the territories subject to it, the Congregation has charge of all that pertains to the holding of synods and councils, to the establishing of episcopal conferences and to the review of their statutes and decrees. The Congregation has a Supreme Council for the direction of Pontifical Missionary Works, on which depend the general Councils of the Missionary Union of the Clergy, the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, and the Society of the Holy Childhood.


Congregation for the Clergy

Presided over by the Prefect
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

With due regard for the rights of bishops and their conferences, this congregation examines those things which concern priests and deacons of the secular clergy with regard to their persons, pastoral ministry, matters which are in support of the exercise of these things, and in all this provides opportune assistance to the bishops. The Congregation has many functions: it studies, proposes and urges the means and aids by which priests strive for sanctity. This office also has charge of everything which concerns the work and discipline of the diocesan clergy. Particularly it promotes the preaching of the Word of God and the works of the apostolate and organization of catechesis, evaluates and approves pastoral and catechetical directories, fosters national and international Catechetical Congresses and indicates the opportune norms for religious instruction of children, young people and adults. The Congregation looks also to the preservation and administration of the temporal goods of the Church without prejudice to the other Congregations which have temporal goods committed to their vigilance. The Pontifical commission for The Conservation of the Artistic and Sacred Patrimony if directly responsible to the Congregation for the Clergy.


Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life
and Societies of Apostolic Life

Presided over by the Prefect
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

The principal function of this congregation is to promote and supervise, in the whole Latin Church, the practices of the evangelical counsels as they are exercised in approved forms of consecrated life and at the same time the activities of societies of apostolic life.  The Congregation takes care of Religious Institutes of Consecrated Life and Secular Institutes.

Religious Institutes:  the Congregation is entrusted with the affairs of all religious institutes of the Latin Rite and their members.  It is also competent in matters which pertain to societies of common life, whose members live like religious, or to Third Orders as such.

Secular Institutes:  the Congregation is competent in the same way, all else being equal, for Apostolic Societies which, although not religious, make a true and complete profession of the evangelical counsels in the world.


Congregation for Catholic Education
(for Seminaries and Educational Institutions)

Presided over by the Prefect
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

This Congregation expresses and exercises the Apostolic See's solicitude for the formation of those who are called to Holy Orders as well as for the promotion and organization of Catholic education. It is competent for all that pertains to the formation of clerics and the Catholic education both of clerics and of the laity.

The Congregation has many functions and is charged with the direction, discipline and temporal administration of seminaries and whatever touches the education of the diocesan clergy and the scientific formation of religious and secular institutes.
The Congregation oversees universities, faculties athenaea and any institute of higher learning which has the name "Catholic" in so far as they depend on the authority of the Church, not excluding those directed by religious or the laity.

The Congregation cares for the establishment of parochial and diocesan schools; watches over all Catholic schools below the level of a university and faculty, as well as all institutes of instruction or education dependent on the authority of the Church.

Also within the Congregation is located the Pontifical Work for Vocations, which is charged with coordinating and promoting the work of fostering all ecclesiastical vocations.


TRIBUNALS

Judicial institutions of the Holy See


Apostolic Penitentiary

Presided over by the Major Penitentiary
Assisted by the Regent

The competence of this Tribunal is concerned with those matters which pertain to the internal forum, for both the sacramental and non-sacramental internal forum. It is competent in matters pertaining to the granting and use of indulgences.


Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura

Presided over by the Prefect
Assisted by the Secretary

This department, in addition to the function which it exercises as Supreme Tribunal, consults so that justice may be correctly administered in the Church. With many functions, the Apostolic Signatura judges the matters assigned to it in the Code of Canon Law; it extend the competence of tribunals; it extends the forum for strangers in Rome to cases of matrimonial nullity in extraordinary circumstances and for grave reasons; it supervises the proper administration of justice; it provides for the establishment of regional and interregional tribunals; it enjoys the rights assigned to it in concordats between the Holy See and the various nations. The Tribunal settles questions about the exercise of administrative ecclesiastical power which are referred to it. It also passes on conflicts of competence among the departments of the Holy See; it examines administrative matters referred to it by the Congregations of the Roman Curia as well as questions committed to it by the Holy Father.


Tribunal of the Roman Rota

Presided over by the Dean

This tribunal acts as a higher instance at the Apostolic See, usually in the grade of appeal, for safeguarding rights in the Church; it fosters the unity of jurisprudence and, through its own sentences, is a help to lower tribunals. It is also a court of first instance for cases specified in the law and for others committed to the Rota by the Roman Pontiff. The greater Part of its decisions concern the nullity of marriage. In such cases its competence includes marriages between two Catholics, between a Catholic and non-Catholic, and between two non-Catholic parties whether one or both of the baptized parties belongs to a Latin or Oriental Rite.


PONTIFICAL COUNCILS

Pontifical Council for the Laity

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

This council is competent in those matters which pertain to the Apostolic See in promoting and coordinating the apostolate of the lay persons and, generally, in those things which look to the Christian life of lay persons as such. The norms were published in the apostolic letter, "Catholicam Christi Ecclesiam" of January 6, 1967 (AAS, LIX, pp. 25-28).


Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

The function of this Council is to concentrate in an appropriate way on initiatives and ecumenical activities for the restoration of unity among Christians. It has charge of relations with those of other communities; considers the correct interpretation and observance of the principles of ecumenism; promotes Catholic groups and coordinates the efforts at unity, both on the national and international levels; institutes colloquies on ecumenical questions and activities with Churches and ecclesial communities separated from the Holy See; deputes Catholic observers for Christian congresses; invites to Catholic gatherings observers of the separated brethren; orders into practice conciliar decrees on ecumenical matters. Furthermore, it is competent for all questions concerning religious relations with Judaism.

Commission for Religious Relations with Jews

Presided over as President ex officio by the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Assisted by the Vice-President and Secretary of the Commission

This commission is responsible for all questions concerning religious relations with Judaism.


Pontifical Council for the Family

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

This Council promotes the pastoral care of families and fosters their rights and dignity in the Church and in civil society, in order that they might ever more suitably fulfill their own functions.


Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

This Council looks to those things which will promote justice and peace in the world according to the gospel and the social teaching of the Church.


Pontifical Council Cor Unum (One Heart)

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

This Council shows the solicitude of the Catholic Church toward the needy, in order that human fraternity might be fostered and the charity of Christ be made manifest.


Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care
of Migrants and Itinerant People

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

This Council directs the pastoral concern of the Church toward the special needs of those who are forced to leave their own native land or who perhaps lack one; it also sees that there is appropriate study of the questions which touch on this matter.


Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance
to Health-Care Workers

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

This Council shows the solicitude of the Church for the sick by aiding those who carry out a ministry toward the sick and suffering, in order that the apostolate of mercy, which they carry out, may ever more suitably respond to new needs.


Pontifical Council for the
Interpretation of Legislative Texts

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

The function of this Council consists especially in interpreting the Church's laws, especially the Code of Canon Law.


Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

This Council fosters and moderates relations with members and bodies of religions which do not carry the name of Christian, as well as with those who in any way possess a religious spirit. It fosters studies and promotes relations with non-Christians to bring about an increase in mutual respect and seeks ways to establish a dialogue with them; it receives and carefully weighs the wishes of the Ordinaries; it provides for the formation of those who participate in dialogue.

Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims

Presided over as President ex officio by the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
Assisted by the Vice-President and Secretary of the Commission


Pontifical Council for Culture

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

The Council embodies the Church's pastoral concern over the relationship between faith and cultures. Its tasks include: studying unbelief and religious indifference, as present in different cultures; supporting the Church's inculturation of the Gospel; promotion initiatives of dialogue between faith and culture, as well as dialogue with those who do not believe in God. Its activities include seminars, intercultural exchanges, and coordinating the activities of Pontifical Academies and the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church. An important hope of the Council is to show faith as the inspiration of science, literature and the arts.


Pontifical Council for Social Communications

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary

This Council is involved in questions touching on the instruments of social communication so that the proclamation of salvation and human progress might be promoted even through them in order to foster civil culture.


OFFICES

Apostolic Camera

Presided over by the Camerlengo (Chamberlain) of the Holy Roman Church

The Apostolic Camera is presided over by the cardinal chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church, assisted by the vice-chamberlain together with certain prelates chamberlain. It chiefly exercises the function which is given to it in the special law on the vacancy of the Apostolic See.


Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Secretary

This Office is competent to administer the goods proper to the Holy See, the income from which is destined to support the expenditures necessary for the functions of the Roman Curia.
Extraordinary Section: Handles the duties committed to it by the Sovereign Pontiff.


Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Secretary

The Prefecture has the function of supervising and governing the administration of goods which belong to the Holy See or is in charge of, no matter what kind of autonomy they may perhaps enjoy. This is directed by a Commission of three Cardinals and coordinates and watches over the administration of the possessions of the Holy See. It receives the reports on the receipts and disbursements of the Church's goods and the various budgets.


Prefecture of the Papal Household

Presided over by the Prefect

The Prefecture looks after the internal order of the pontifical household and supervises everything which pertains to discipline and service either by clergy or laity who constitute the pontifical chapel and family. It is in charge of the Apostolic Palace and is at the service of the Holy Father, both there and wherever he goes. It arranges audiences with His Holiness and supervises papal ceremonies other than the strictly liturgical.


Office for the Liturgical Celebrations
of the Supreme Pontiff

Presided over by the Master of Papal Ceremonies

This Office prepares whatever is necessary for liturgical and other sacred celebrations which are carried out by the Supreme Pontiff or in his name and, in keeping with existing prescription of liturgical law.


Press Office of the Holy See

Presided over by the Director
Assisted by the Vice-Director

The Press Office coordinates press contacts and publishes official news regarding the activities of the Holy Father and those of the different departments of the Holy See. Speeches, messages and various documents, as well as the position statements issued by the director, are published in their entirety.

Vatican Information Service

Presided over by the Bureau Chief

The V.I.S. is an information service of the Holy See Press Office which furnishes information on the pastoral and magisterial activity of the Holy Father and the Holy See. It deals primarily with the acts and nominations of the Holy Father; syntheses of his homilies and speeches, presentations and communications relative to documents written by the Holy Father or departments of the Apostolic See, Holy See activities (congregations, councils, synods, etc.); and communiqués and positions taken by the Holy See normally made public through the Press Office.


COMMISSIONS AND COMMITTEES

Pontifical Commission for the
Cultural Heritage of the Church

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Secretary and Undersecretary


Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Secretary


Pontifical Biblical Commission

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Secretary


Pontifical Commission for the Revision
and Emendation of the Vulgate

Presided over by the Director


Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Actuary

The goals of the commission are to collaborate with bishops, with the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and with other interested circles in order to facilitate the full ecclesial communion of priests, seminarians, communities or individual men and women religious linked, to date, in various ways, to the Fraternity founded by Msgr. Lefebvre who desire to remain united to the Successor of Peter in the Catholic Church


International Theological Commission

President over as President ex officio by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Assisted by the General Secretary


Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Secretary


Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Secretary


Committee for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the General Secretary


Pontifical Swiss Guard

Presided over by the Captain Commandant
Assisted by a Lieutenant

The main purpose of the guards is the protection of the Pope.  The Guard is required to be fully versed in the most modern techniques of security and protection.


INSTITUTIONS CONNECTED WITH THE HOLY SEE

Vatican Secret Archives

Presided over by the Archivist
Assisted by the Prefect and Vice-Prefect

This institution along with the Vatican Library are responsible for the guardianship of much of the greatest treasures of the modern era. These include original manuscripts form our greatest authors and documents and historic memorabilia from the most important events in history.


Vatican Apostolic Library

Presided over by the Librarian
Assisted by the Prefect

The earliest origins of the Papal library are lost in antiquity, but practically nothing has remained of this period. The modern period begins with Nicholas V (1447-1455), humanist and founder of a notable private collection which has to form the first nucleus of the present library. Sixtus IV gave juridical form to the library conceived by Nicholas V with the bull Ad decorem militantis ecclesiae of 15 June 1475. As of 1 January 1996 the patrimony of the library included 1,600,000 printed books, 8,300 incunabula (of which 65 printed on vellum), 150,000 manuscript volumes, 100,000 prints and engravings, 300,000 coins and medals, and 20,000 objects of art.


Vatican Press(Vatican Polyglot)

Presided over by the Director-General

The official printing plant of the Holy See. Called polyglot (many tongues) from the 30+ languages in which it publishes.


L'Osservatore Romano

President over by the Editor-in-Chief
Assisted by the Editors of the weekly language editions (French, English, Spanish, Portuguese and German), and the Polish-language monthly

The semi-offical newspaper of the Holy See, published daily in Italian and weekly in 6 other languages. It carries the entire text of all the public addresses of the Holy Father, the texts of major papal and curial documents and articles by approved authors. In the US the weekly English edition is published and distributed for the Holy See by the Cathedral Foundation (410) 547-5380.


Vatican Publishing House
Libreria Editrice Vaticana)

Presided over by the Chairman
Assisted by the Director

Publishes and distributes (as opposed to prints) the liturgical, Magisterial and other documents of the Holy See.


Vatican Radio

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Director-General


Vatican Television Centre

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Director-General

The aim of the Vatican Television Center (CTV) is to contribute to spreading the Good News of the Gospel by using television to document the Pope's pastoral ministry and the activity of the Apostolic See.


Office of Papal Charities

Presided over by the Almoner of His Holiness

This agency distributes funds to persons in need in and around Rome and throughout the world.


Labour Office of the Apostolic See

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Vice-President

Responsible for labor relations of the Holy See with its employees. Settles labor issues which arise. Instituted by Pope John Paul II in 1989.


Central Statistics Office

Compiles, systematizes and analyzes information on the status and condition of the Church. Attached to the Secretariate of State


ACADEMIES

Pontifical Academy of Science

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Director

The precursor to the actual Pontifical Academy of Sciences was the Linceorum Academia, which was founded in Rome in 1603 and which, after some vicissitudes, was named Pontificia Academia dei Nuovi Lincei by Pius IX in 1847. It was enlargened by Leo XIII in 1887, and in 1936 it received its current name from Pius XI. Currently it is the only academy of sciences of a supranational character which exists in the world. It has as its scope: to pay honor to pure science, wherever it is found, and to assure its freedom and to promote its research, which constitute the indispensable basis for progress in science. This academy is directly responsible to the Holy Father. It is composed of 80 academicians who are named by the pope. The academic body selects names, without discriminating in any way, among the most illustrious devotees of mathematical and experimental sciences of every country, and then proposes them to the pope. Added to these 80 academicians are the "perdurante munere" academicians, chosen by reason of their office, and honorary academicians, by reason of their merits towards the academy.


Pontifical Academy of Social Science

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Chancellary Director

The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences was founded by John Paul II in January 1994, with the Motu Proprio Socialum Scientiarum. Its objective, says Article 1 of its statutes, is "to promote the study and progress of social, economic, political and juridical sciences in the light of the social doctrine of the Church." The academy is autonomous and at the same time, maintains a very close relationship with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, with which it coordinates the planning of various initiatives. Its academicians are also named by the pope and their number cannot be fewer than 20, nor more than 40. Currently there are 31 members who come from 24 countries throughout the world, without distinction to religious denomination, and who are chosen for their high level of competency in some of the diverse social disciplines.


Pontifical Academy for Life

Presided over by the President
Assisted by the Vice-President

With his Motu Proprio Vitae Mysterium of February 11, 1994, John Paul II instituted the Pontifical Academy for Life. Its objectives are the study, information and formation on the principal problems of biomedicine and of law, relative to the promotion and defense of life, above all in the direct relation that they have with Christian morality and the directives of the Church's Magisterium. To achieve these objectives, the Vitae Mysterium Foundation was instituted in October 1994. The academy for life is autonomous and is linked to the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers and various other dicasteries of the Roman Curia committed to the service of life. Seventy members named by the pope, who represent different branches of biomedical sciences and those which are closely linked with problems concerning the promotion and defense of life, belong to the academy.


VATICAN CITY STATE - Stato della Città de Vaticano

Presided over by the Governor

The territorial seat of the Roman Pontiff, established by concordat (the Lateran Treaty) with Italy in 1927 (revised in 1985). It is the smallest sovereign state in the world (108.7 acres). In addition to Vatican City the State includes certain extra-territorial properties in Italy belonging to the Holy See (Major Basilicas, Curial and diocesan offices, Castel Gandolpho). The Pope is the Head of State, though he governs through the Pontifical Commission for the State of Vatican City. The Gubernator manages the day to day affairs of the State.