THE ROMAN CURIA
“The Church is essentially both human and divine...” (CCC 771). It is the human part that assists the Pope in carrying out the day to day administration of the Church.
The Pope acts as the Vicar of Christ with the help of departments or bureaus, called dicasteries. These dicasteries are collectively known as the Roman Curia. The Curia with the help of other councils, commissions and committees assist the Holy Father in the day-to-day functions of the Church.
Some of these departments, or dicasteries, are known as either Congregations, Offices or Tribunals. The Roman Curia in its strictest sense consists of these Congregations, Offices, and Tribunals.
CONGREGATIONS There are nine Congregations in the Roman Curia. Congregations are normally headed by a cardinal who has the title of prefect. There is a Congregation:
- -For the Doctrine of the Faith which promotes and safeguards the doctrine of faith and morals in the whole Church. This Congregation is currently headed by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.
- -For the Oriental Churches
- -For Divine Worship and Sacraments, which is responsible for moderation and promotion of the sacred liturgy throughout the Catholic Church. The current prefect is Jorge Arturo Cardinal Medina Estevez.
- -For the Causes of Saints
- -For Bishops
- -For the Evangelization of Peoples
- -For the Clergy
- -For Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life which is responsible for everything which concerns religious orders and societies of apostolic life, regarding their government, discipline, studies, goods, rights, and privileges.
- -For Catholic Education,
OFFICES There are seven offices in the Curia:
- -Apostolic Camera, which functions chiefly when a pope dies.
- -Patrimony of the Apostolic See which administers 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.
- -Prefecture for Economic Affairs
- -Prefecture of the Papal Household
- -Office for the Liturgical Celebrations
- -Press Office of the Holy See
- -Vatican Information Service
TRIBUNALS There are three tribunals in the Roman Curia. These are:
Aside from the Congregations, Offices, and Tribunals, the Holy Father is further assisted by a series of councils, commissions, institutions and academies. These other dicasteries, while not part of the Curia in the strictest sense, are closely associated with it.
- -The Apostolic Penitentiary
- -The Supreme Tribunal (also called the Apostolic Signatura), which settles questions about the exercise of administrative ecclesiastical power which are referred to it. It also judges on conflicts of jurisdiction among the departments of the Holy See.
- -The Roman Rota which deals with the majority of decisions concerning the nullity of marriage.
The Secretariate of State closely assists the Supreme Pontiff in the exercise of his supreme function. Currently the Secretary is Angelo Cardinal Sodano.
Additionally there are twelve Pontifical Councils, such as the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue whose current President is Francis Cardinal Arinze. This Council fosters and moderates relations with non-christian churches.
There are ten Commissions/Committees including the Commission Ecclesia Dei, instituted to facilitate the full ecclesial communion of those linked to the Fraternity founded by Msgr. Lefebvre.
There are ten Institutions, including Vatican Radio and the Vatican Apostolic Library.
Finally there are three Academies; Science, Social Sciences, and Life.
It is important for all Catholics to have a basic understanding of the general organization of the Roman Curia, since the activities there can affect our worship.
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Published by The Minnesota St. Thomas More Chapter of Catholics United for the Faith, June 2000.