Christian Cyclopedia

About the Cyclopedia


1. Secular. In ancient Rome, a division of the people. In medieval Lat., synonymous for “court,” designating either a solemn assem. called by a king, or any court of law.

2. a. Curia Romana. In the canonical sense, depts. and officials used by the pope to administer RC govt. In a broader sense the term includes all dignitaries and officials forming the immediate entourage of the pope.

b. Before Constantine, the bp. of Rome was assisted in his administrative duties by the presbytery at Rome and neighboring bps. From Constantine until the Middle Ages, Roman syns. handled important or difficult affairs. In the Middle Ages the papacy made increasing use of cardinals. Tribunals, congs., and offices were gradually formed. Sixtus V, by the constitution Immensa, January 22, 1588, est. 15 congs. His system remained substantially the same until Pius X reorganized the curia by the constitution Sapienti consilio, June 29, 1908.

c. As of 1982 the curia included 2 depts. (the Secretariat of State and the Council for the Pub. Affairs of the Ch.), 9 congs., 3 tribunals, 3 secretariats, and various commissions, councils, and offices.

d. Secretariat of State. Successor of what in the 17th c. was called the cardinal nephew. Performs functions formerly performed by the Secretariat of Briefs to Princes, the Secretariat of Latin Letters, the Apostolic Datary, and the Apostolic Chancery. Helps the pope in the care of the ch. and in dealings with all curia depts.

e. Council for the Public Affairs of the Church. In the 1960s is took over the duties of the Sacred Cong. for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs (est. 1793 by Pius VI [see Popes, 26] as the Cong. for Extraordinary Affairs from the Kingdom of the Gauls; powers extended 1814 by Pius VII [see Popes, 27]). Handles diplomatic and other relations with civil govts.

f. Congregations. Norms specified by the pope determine the discipline and bus. of congs. No important bus. is to be transacted without knowledge of the pope. All mems. are bound to secrecy regarding official matters. Only cardinals are mems. of congs., but they are staffed by major and minor officials and provided with consultors. Their competence is primarily administrative and executive to the pope. Congs. do not share in papal infallibility.

Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In the 13th c. Innocent III (see Popes, 10) commissioned legates as the Holy Office of the Inquisition; this function was given to the Dominican Order by Gregory IX (see Popes, 11) 1231, and to the Friars Minor by Innocent* IV 1243–54. Paul* III est. permanent cong. 1542. Pope is prefect. Called Cong. of the Holy Office by Pius X (see Popes, 30); present name 1965 by Paul VI (see Popes, 35); competance includes matters of faith and morals; negatively, it condemns error; positively, it promotes orthodox doctrine; advises regarding doctrinal content of books (see also Index of Prohibited Books).

Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches. Est. 1862 by Pius IX (see Popes, 28)—though congs. with similar functions had existed before—and united with the Sacred Cong. for the Propagation of the Faith; made autonomous 1917 by Benedict XV (see Popes, 31); functions extended 1938 by Pius XI (see Popes, 32); John XXIII (see Popes, 34) appointed 6 patriarchs to it (5 from the E Rites); Paul VI (see Popes, 35) named consultors from all E-Rite groups 1963. Competence includes matters concerning the persons and discipline of E-Rite chs.

Sacred Congregation for Bishops (formerly Sacred Consistorial Cong.). Est. 1588 by Sixtus V (see Popes, 22); powers extended 1908 by Pius X and 1952 by Pius XII (see Popes, 33). Its functions are related to bps. and their jurisdictions.

Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship. Est. 1975 to replace the Cong. for the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Cong. for Divine Worship; the former was est. 1908 by Pius X; in 1969 Paul VI determined the functions and title of the latter, whose duties were formerly performed by the Cong. of Rites (est. 1588 by Sixtus V [see Popes, 22]; power extended 1930 by Pius XI [see Popes, 32]).

Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Est. 1969 by Paul VI; handles all matters connected with beatification and canonization and with preservation of relics (affairs formerly under the Cong. of Rites).

Sacred Congregation for the Clergy (formerly Sacred Cong. of the Council). Est. 1564 by Pius* IV as Sacred Cong. of the Cardinals Interpreters of the Council of Trent.* Handles matters concerning the persons, work, and pastoral ministry of clerics who exercise their apostolate in a diocese.

Sacred Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes. Est. 1586 by Sixtus V; confirmed 1588. Competence includes matters pertaining to institutes of religious as well as tertiaries* and secular institutes.

Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education (formerly Sacred Cong. of Seminaries and Universities). Est. 1915 by Benedict XV (see Popes, 31); functions extended 1931–32 by Pius XI, and by Pius XII (see Popes, 32 and 33) 1941 and 1949. Has supervisory competence over institutions and works of Catholic education.

Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (for the Propagation of the Faith). Begun as a comission of cardinals by Gregory* XIII; modified by Clement* VIII to promote reconciliation with E Christians. Permanently est. 1622 by Gregory* XV. Competence includes Christian missions.

Former congs. include: Sacred Cong. of Ceremonies; est. 1588 by Sixtus V (see Popes, 22); its functions were transferred in the 1960s to the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household. Sacred Cong. of the Basilica of St. Peter; est. by Clement* VIII; reduced in rank in the 1960s.

g. Tribunals.

Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary. Began in the 12th c.; reorganized 1569 by Pius V (see Popes, 21). Issues decisions on questions of conscience; grants absolutions, dispensations, commutations, sanations, and condonations; has charge of nondoctrinal matters pertaining to indulgences.

Sacred Roman Rota. Began in the Apostolic Chancery; reorganized 1908 by Pius X (see Popes, 30); rev. 1934 by Pius XI (see Popes, 32). Court of appeal for cases appealed to the Holy See.

Apostolic Signatura. Existed since the 15th c.; reorganized 1908 by Pius X (see Popes, 30). Supreme court of Vatican City; decides the jurisdictional competence of lower courts; has jurisdiction in cases involving personnel and decisions of the Rota.

h. Secretariats.

Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. Est. 1960 by John XXIII (see Popes, 34) as a preparatory secretariat of Vatican II (see Vatican Councils, 2); raised to commission status 1962; status confirmed 1966.

Secretariat for Non-Christians. Est. 1964 by Paul VI (see Popes, 35).

Secretariat for Non-Believers. Est. 1965 by Paul VI.

See also Commissions, Ecclesiastical.

3. Diocesan Curia. Court through which bp. governs diocese.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
All rights reserved.

Content Reproduced with Permission

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