CONGREGATION FOR THE CLERGY
The Congregation for the Clergy is the new title given by Paul VI to the "Sacred Congregation of the Council", in the Apostolic Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae dated August 15, 1967. The history of this Congregation goes back to the Sacra Congregatio Cardinalium Concilii Tridentini interpretum, instituted by Pius IV in the Apostolic Constitution Alias Nos dated Aug. 2, 1564, to ensure a correct interpretation and the practical observance of the norms issued by the Council of Trent. Gregory XIII increased its functions and Sixtus V entrusted to it the revision of the acts of provincial councils and, in general, the task of promoting the implementation of the reforms established by the Council of Trent. With the passage of time, the task of interpreting the canons of the Council of Trent ceased and the vast competence of this Dicastery was gradually transferred to other Congregations which had been created in the meantime. However, the Dicastery has kept its historical name of "Sacred Congregation of the Council" until December 31, 1967. Before being given its new title and role, which were established by Paul VI in the above-mentioned Apostolic Constitution, the tasks of the Congregation were enumerated in can. 250 of the Code of Canon Law.
The competence of the Congregation for the Clergy is now indicated in ns. 93-98 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus and is these are divided among three Offices:
1) The Office for the Clergy collects, suggests and promotes initiatives with regard to the sanctity and the intellectual and pastoral updating of the Clergy (Diocesan Priests and Deacons), as well as their ongoing formation; it oversees Cathedral Chapters, Pastoral Councils, Presbyteral Councils, Parishes, Parish Priests and all clerics with regard to whatever pertains to their pastoral ministry etc.; the matters of Mass offerings, Pious Foundations, Legacies, Oratories, Churches, Shrines, ecclesiastical archives and libraries; it also seeks to promote a more adequate distribution of the Clergy all over the world.
2) The Catechetical Office provides for the religious formation of the faithful of all ages and states of life; it issues appropriate norms so that catechetical teaching is imparted in a suitable fashion; it ensures that catechetical formation is properly executed; it grants the prescribed approvals for national Catechisms and Directories; it assists catechetical offices and follows initiatives regarding religious formation and international events dealing with such issues; it coordinates activities and offers their help if necessary.
3) The Third Office is competent in matters of the regulation and administration of ecclesiastical goods belonging to public juridic persons; it also grants the necessary permissions for the juridical negotiations mentioned in canons 1292 and 1295. Moreover it supervises matters pertaining to the adequate income and social necessities of the Clergy such as disablement, old age and medical care etc.
1. Attached to the Congregation for the Clergy is the old Studio Pio, formally instituted by Benedict XV on Oct. 28, 1919, to help young priests to improve their skill in the normal and regular dispatch of ecclesiastical affairs and especially in the application of Canon Law in administrative matters.
2. In a Letter, dated June 7, 1973, Paul VI provided that the International Council for Catechesis would be attached to this Dicastery. This Council has the task of promoting an exchange of experiences, of studying the more important catechetical issues, and is an organ at the service of the Apostolic See and of Episcopal Conferences, with the purpose of making suggestions and proposals in these areas.
3. Beginning with the Academic Year 1994-1995 the Institute, "Sacrum Ministerium", has also been attached to the Congregation. Its purpose is to provide for the formation of those responsible for the ongoing formation of priests.
4. The biennial review edited by the Congregation, "Sacrum Ministerium", was also begun at the same time. This review is presented as an aid to Ordinaries, Presbyterates, individual priests as an instrument for ongoing formation in the vast arena of pastoral ministry.
The Superiors are:
Prefect: His Em. Cardinal Beniamino Stella
Secretary: His Excellency, Archbishop Joël Mercier
Undersecretary: F. Andrea Ripa