Religion Wiki

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) (Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei), previously known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, and sometimes simply called the Holy Office is the oldest of the nine congregations of the Roman Curia. Among the most active of these major Curial departments, it oversees Catholic doctrine.


According to Article 48 of the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Pastor Bonus, promulgated by Pope John Paul II on June 28, 1988: "the duty proper to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is to promote and safeguard the doctrine on the faith and morals throughout the Catholic world: for this reason everything which in any way touches such matter falls within its competence."

Within the CDF are the International Theological Commission and the Pontifical Biblical Commission. The Prefect of the CDF is ex officio president of both commissions. The congregation also deals with sexual abuse cases.

Galileo before the Holy Office, a 19th-century painting by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury

On July 21, 1542, Pope Paul III, with the Constitution Licet ab initio, established 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 Saint Pius X. It was changed to Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on December 7, 1965, at the end of the Second Vatican Council. In 1983, with the new code of Canon law, "Sacred" was dropped from the names of Vatican Congregations.


Until 1968, the Pope himself held the title of prefect but never exercised this birth office. Instead, he appointed one of the cardinals 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, without further qualification. Therefore, from 1968 onwards, the title of Secretary refers to the second highest-ranking officer of the Congregation. There are usually ten other cardinals on the Congregation, as well as a prelate and two assistants.

The work of the Congregation is divided into four sections: the doctrinal, disciplinary, matrimonial, and clerical office. The Congregation holds biennial plenary assemblies, and is occasionally obligated to censure theologians whose writings and teachings are contrary to Church doctrine (e.g., Hans Kung, Charles Curran, and Leonardo Boff).

Members (2009):

  • Prefect: Cardinal William Levada
  • Secretary: Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, S.J.
  • Under-secretary: Archbishop Damiano Marzotto Caotorta
  • Promoter of Justice: Monsignor Charles J. Scicluna
  • 25 members: Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops
  • 28 Consultors
  • Staff of 33

On 6 May 2006 Cardinals Antonio Cañizares Llovera and Jean-Pierre Cardinal Ricard were named members of the Congregation.

Recent Opinions and Publications

  • Dominus Iesus (2000)[1]
  • Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons (2002)[2]
  • [3] (24 November 2002), arguably the basis for the comments by Cardinal George Pell and those by Archbishop Barry Hickey in June 2007 in Australia to Catholic politicians on their votes on therapeutic cloning legislation.
  • In an April 2007 address to chaplains, Archbishop Amato denounced same-sex marriage and abortion and criticized the Italian media's coverage of them, saying that they are evils "that remain almost invisible" due to media presentation of them as "expression of human progress."[4]
  • On September 28, 2007, Gaston Hebert, the diocese administrator (per the July 11 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) stated that 6 Arkansas nuns were excommunicated for heresy (the first in the diocese's 165-year history). They refused to recant the doctrines of the Community of the Lady of All Nations (Army of Mary). The 6 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 6, said they will still live at the convent property, which they own. The sect believe that its 86-year-old founder, Marie Paule Giguere, is the reincarnation of the Virgin Mary.[5]
  • On April 5, 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.[6]

Heads of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Grand Inquisitors


    • Unless stated otherwise, the secretaryship ended with the relevant man's death
  • Camillo Borghese 1602-1605 (elected as Pope Paul V)
  • Pompeio Arrigoni 1605-1616
  • Giovanni Garzia Millini 1616-1629
  • Antonio Marcello Barberini 1629-1633
  • Francesco Barberini 1633-1679
  • Cesare Facchinetti 1679-1683
  • Alderano Cibo 1683-1700
  • Galeazzo Marescotti 1700-1716
  • Fabrizio Spada 1716-1717
  • Nicolò Acciaioli 1717-1719
  • Francesco del Giudice 1719-1725
  • Fabrizio Paolucci 1725-1726
  • Pietro Ottoboni 1726-1740
  • Tommaso Ruffo 1740-1753
  • Neri Maria Corsini 1753-1770
  • Giovanni Francesco Stoppani 1770-1774
  • Luigi Maria Torregiani 1775-1777
  • Carlo Rezzonico 1777-1799
  • Leonardo Antonelli 1800-1811
  • Giulio Maria della Somaglia 1814-1830
  • Bartolomeo Pacca 1830-1844
  • Vincenzo Macchi 1844-1860
  • Costantino Patrizi Naro 1860-1876
  • Prospero Caterini 1876-1881
  • Antonio Maria Panebianco 1882-1883
  • Luigi Cardinal Bilio, C.R.S.P. (1883-1884)
  • Raffaele Cardinal Monaco La Valetta (1884-1896)
  • Lucido Cardinal Parocchi (1896-1903)
  • Serafino Cardinal Vannutelli (1903-1908) (served until death in 1915 as Regent of Apostolic Penitentiary)
  • Mariano Cardinal Rampolla (1908-1913)
  • Domenico Cardinal Ferrata (September 3, 1914 - October 10, 1914)
  • Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (October 14, 1914 - February 26, 1930)
  • Donato Cardinal Sbarretti (July 4, 1930-April 1, 1939)
  • Francesco Cardinal Marchetti-Selvaggiani (April 30, 1939-January 13, 1951)
  • Giuseppe Cardinal Pizzardo (February 16, 1951-October 12, 1959)
  • Subsequently the head of the dicastery has been Prefect.


  • Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani (November 7, 1959-January 6, 1968) First titled Secretary, as the Pope was always the Prefect, then Pro-Prefect, until appointment as cardinal
  • Franjo Cardinal Šeper (January 8, 1968 - November 25, 1981) (his retirement)
  • Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (November 25, 1981 - April 2, 2005) (Pope John Paul II's death) - elected Pope Benedict XVI
  • William Cardinal Levada (May 13, 2005 - Present)

Modern Secretaries of the CDF

  • Archbishop Pietro Parente (7 Dec 1965 to 1967)
  • Archbishop Paul-Pierre Philippe, O.P. (29 Jun 1967 to 6 Mar 1973)
  • Archbishop Jean Jérôme Hamer, O.P. (14 Jun 1973 to 8 Apr 1984)
  • Archbishop Alberto Bovone (5 Apr 1984 to 13 Jun 1995)
  • Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B. (13 Jun 1995 to 10 Dec 2002)
  • Archbishop Angelo Amato, S.D.B. (19 Dec 2002 - 9 July 2008)
  • Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, S.J (9 July 2008 - present)

See also


External links

bg:Конгрегация за доктрината на вярата ca:Congregació de la doctrina de la Fe cs:Kongregace pro nauku víry eu:Fedearen Doktrinarako Kongregazioa hr:Kongregacija za nauk vjere id:Kongregasi bagi Doktrin Iman ko:신앙교리성 la:Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei hu:Hittani Kongregáció no:Kongregasjonen for troslæren pt:Congregação para a Doutrina da Fé ro:Congregaţia pentru Doctrina Credinţei ru:Конгрегация доктрины веры sk:Kongregácia pre náuku viery sl:Kongregacija za nauk vere fi:Uskonopin kongregaatio sv:Troskongregationen