New organisation for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Michael Kong

On the 11th of February, Pope Francis has enacted the reorganisation of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith into two sections as part of ongoing measures to reform the Roman Curia.

Until now, the congregation has had three offices under a Prefect and a single Secretary: doctrinal, discipline and marriage. With the new structure, the doctrinal and discipline offices become their own special sections led by their own Secretaries. The two Secretaries will serve under the Prefect of the congregation. Each section will also have an Under-secretary who collaborates with the Secretary and other heads of office. The marriage office will become part of the doctrinal office.

According to Pope Francis, this restructuring is needed to give due importance to the work of each section. The disciplinary section, through the currently existing discipline office, will handle those offenses and crimes reserved to the congregation. It will prepare and elaborate procedures in accordance with canon law so as to “promote a correct administration of justice”. Its aim is to provide needed formation initiatives to bishops, dioceses and canon lawyers to have a correct understanding and application of canonical norms. It should be recalled that it is this section that deals with the study of abuse cases.

With regard to the doctrinal section, will be dealing with matters concerning the promotion and safeguarding of the doctrine of the faith and morals. This may promote studies aimed at fostering the knowledge and transmission of the faith in the service of evangelisation, “so that its light may be the criterion for understanding the meaning of existence, especially before questions posed by the progress of science and the development of society”. Until the explosion of abuse cases was the main work of the Congregation.

It will examine documents to be published by other Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, as well as writings and opinions that appear problematic for the correct faith, encouraging dialogue with their authors and proposing suitable remedies, according to previously established norms.

Any questions arising from the Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church will be studied in this section through the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus. Under this section, the marriage office will deal with questions involving the validity of marriages when one of the spouses is not a baptised Christian.

The Pope also confirmed that the congregation’s archive will continue to preserve documents for safekeeping and consultation, including its historical archives.