Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

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The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) (Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei) is the oldest of the nine congregations of the Roman Curia. Among the most active of the major Curial institutions, it oversees the Roman Catholic Church doctrine. It is historically related to the Inquisition.



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."


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 with 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. In reaction to the excesses of the Spanish Inquisition, it was tightly controlled by strict procedural rules under the administration of Francisco Peña.

This body was renamed the 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. It has become the supervisory body of local tribunals.


The Pope himself held the title of prefect until 1968 but never exercised this 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 full Prefect. 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 office, the disciplinary office, the matrimonial office, and that for priests. The Congregation holds plenary assemblies annually.

Members (2005):

Recent opinions and publications

  • Dominus Iesus (2000)
  • Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons (2002)[1]
  • (Unknown title- the document was not made public) Banned transsexuals from entering consecrated life, orders expulsion of all current transsexual consecrates, and orders church workers not to change baptismal records or otherwise accommodate transsexual worshippers. (2003) [2][3][4]



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