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 after 1904 called the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, is the oldest of the nine congregations of the Roman Curia. Among the most active of the congregations, it oversees Catholic Church doctrine. Its offices are housed at the Palace of the Holy Office at the Vatican.
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.
The Congregation's name was changed to Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on December 7, 1965, at the end of the Second Vatican Council. In 1988, with the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia Pastor Bonus, "Sacred" was dropped from the names of Curial Congregations, and so the dicastery adopted its current name, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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."
This includes investigations into what are known as "delicta graviora"; i.e., the crimes which the Catholic Church considers as being the most serious of all: 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 a "motu proprio" of 2001, "Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela", come under the competency of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In effect, it is the "promoter of justice" who deals with, among other things, the question of priests accused of paedophilia, which are periodically highlighted in the mass media. In other words, the CDF was given a broader mandate to address the sex abuse cases only from 2001.
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 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 Küng, Charles Curran, and Leonardo Boff).
- Cardinal Prefect: Cardinal William Levada
- Secretary: His Excellency, Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, S.J.
- Undersecretary: Monsignor Damiano Marzotto Caotorta
- Promoter of Justice: Monsignor Charles J. Scicluna
- 25 members: Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops
- 28 Consultors
- Staff of 33
Recent opinions and publications
- Dominus Iesus (2000)
- Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons (2002)
-  (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."
- On September 28, 2007, Gaston Hebert, the then apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Little Rock stated that (per the July 11 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) 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.
- 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.
Heads of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
- Gian Pietro Carafa 1542-1555 (elected as Pope Paul IV)
- Antonio Michele Ghisleri 1558-1566 (elected as Pope Pius V)
- Scipione Rebiba 1573-1577
- Giacomo Savelli 1577-1586
- Giulio Antonio Santori 1586-1602
Unless stated otherwise, the secretaryship ended with the relevant man's death. From 1602 until 1965, the leading prelate of the Congregation was the Secretary, as the Pope himself presided over the congregation as its Prefect. However, the daily administration of the affairs of the Congregation was discharged by the Secretary, aided by the Accessor. Thus, unlike other Congregations, that were led by a Prefect aided by a Secretary, the Holy Office was led by a Secretary, aided by an Accessor, with the Pope as Prefect.
- Camillo Borghese 1602-1605 (elected as Pope Paul V)
- Pompeio Arrigoni 1605-1616
- Giovanni Garzia Millini 1616-1629
- Antonio Marcello Barberini 1629-1633 (Left office; died in 1646. Succeeded by his nephew)
- Francesco Barberini 1633-1679
- Cesare Facchinetti 1679-1683
- Alderano Cybo 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 Bilio, C.R.S.P. (1883–1884)
- Raffaele Monaco La Valletta (1884–1896)
- Lucido Parocchi (1896–1903)
- Serafino Vannutelli (1903–1908) (served until death in 1915 as Regent of Apostolic Penitentiary)
- Mariano Rampolla (1908–1913)
- Domenico Ferrata (January 3, 1914 - October 10, 1914)
- Rafael Merry del Val (October 14, 1914 - February 26, 1930)
- Donato Sbarretti (July 4, 1930-April 1, 1939)
- Francesco Marchetti-Selvaggiani (April 30, 1939-January 13, 1951)
- Giuseppe Pizzardo (February 16, 1951-October 12, 1959)
- Alfredo Ottaviani (November 7, 1959–1965, when he was made Pro-Prefect)
In 1965, along with changing the name of the dicastery, Pope Paul VI changed the title of the head of the Congregation from Secretary to Pro-Prefect, the Roman Pontiff retaining the role of Prefect. Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, who was then Secretary, having been appointed to lead the Holy Office in 1959, was confirmed as Pro-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
- Alfredo Ottaviani (1965-January 6, 1968)
Since the appointment of Cardinal Franjo Šeper in 1968, the head of the dicastery has been titled Prefect. The Pope no longer holds the office of Prefect of the CDF himself.
- Franjo Šeper (January 8, 1968 - November 25, 1981) (his retirement)
- Joseph Ratzinger (November 25, 1981 - April 2, 2005) (Pope John Paul II's death) - elected Pope Benedict XVI
- William Levada (May 13, 2005–Present)
Modern Secretaries of the CDF
With the reorganization of the Holy Office as the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in December 1965, the head of the Congregation was no longer titled Secretary. The dicastery's second-in-command, until then titled accessor, was then given the title of Secretary, as was already the case with the other Roman Congregations. The following Archbishops have served as the CDF's second-in-command with the title of Secretary:
- Archbishop Pietro Parente (7 December 1965 to 1967)
- Archbishop Paul-Pierre Philippe, O.P. (29 June 1967 to 6 March 1973)
- Archbishop Jean Jérôme Hamer, O.P. (14 June 1973 to 8 April 1984)
- Archbishop Alberto Bovone (5 April 1984 to 13 June 1995)
- Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B. (13 June 1995 to 10 December 2002)
- Archbishop Angelo Amato, S.D.B. (19 December 2002 - 9 July 2008)
- Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, S.J (9 July 2008–present)
- Index Librorum Prohibitorum
- Crimen sollicitationis
- Archive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
- Jon Sobrino Spanish theologian disciplined by the Congregation in 2007
- Liberation theology
- "Promoter Of Justice At Doctrine Of Faith On Paedophilia". Avvenire. http://www.stevencwelsh.com/faith/Catholic-News-sexual-abuse-data-Vatican-news-april-203.php. Retrieved 2010-04-16.
- Vatican. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/resources/resource-files/churchdocs/SacramentorumAndNormaeEnglish.htm. Retrieved 2010-04-16.
- Dominus Iesus
- Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Recognition To Unions Between Homosexual Persons
- Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life
- Pullella, Philip (April 23, 2007). "Gay marriage evil, abortion terrorism: Vatican". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2007-04-26. http://web.archive.org/web/20070426054130/http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070423/wl_nm/pope_gays_dc. Retrieved 2007-04-23.
- CNN, Six Arkansas nuns excommunicated for heresy
- Vatican letter directs bishops to keep parish records from Mormons
- Homepage on Holy See website
bg:Конгрегация за доктрината на вярата ca:Congregació de la doctrina de la Fe cs:Kongregace pro nauku víry de:Kongregation für die Glaubenslehre es:Congregación para la Doctrina de la Fe eu:Fedearen Doktrinarako Kongregazioa fr:Congrégation pour la doctrine de la foi ko:신앙교리성 hr:Kongregacija za nauk vjere id:Kongregasi bagi Doktrin Iman it:Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede la:Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei hu:Hittani Kongregáció nl:Congregatie voor de Geloofsleer no:Kongregasjonen for troslæren pl:Kongregacja Nauki Wiary pt:Congregação para a Doutrina da Fé ro:Congregația pentru Doctrina Credinței ru:Конгрегация доктрины веры sk:Kongregácia pre náuku viery sl:Kongregacija za nauk vere fi:Uskonopin kongregaatio sv:Troskongregationen