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on the necessity to establish doctrinal Commissions
in Episcopal Conferences


With the motu proprio Integrae Servandae of December 7, 1965, the Holy Father Paul VI has changed the name of this Sacred Dicastery and reformed its regulations, so that, in truth, it may exercise the duty proper to it of defending and promoting adequately the doctrine of the faith and of morals with greater fruit as the present circumstances require. 

In exercising this solicitude, that touches the interests of the entire Church, it is good that the Bishops collaborate specifically in what pertains to the apostolic office together with the Roman Pontiff as its head. 

The progress of science today is such that the development of doctrine in the majority of cases can take place only through the collaboration of many people.  In addition, as experience shows, it happens that the thoughts and affirmations of a discipline spread quickly throughout the world, thanks to the marvelous increase in the means of social communication which today allows information to be circulated everywhere.  In particular, this is true for the religious problems in our time that do not remain closed among the walls of a specific church or school, but openly present themselves every day all the more to the minds of the faithful, and in fact to persons of any culture.  But God does not leave mankind without a witness to himself. 

Therefore in this regard it is necessary that the Bishops of each country meet among themselves and likewise with the Apostolic See from which “arises the unity of the priesthood”:  it will be of great benefit if a doctrinal Commission in these Episcopal Conferences will monitor the writings that are published, foster authentic religious study, and give its collaboration to the Bishops in evaluating books. 

In fact, the Holy See recognizes and praises the fact that this has been achieved already in some Episcopal Conferences.  But this Sacred Congregation, with the encouragement and approval of the Supreme Pontiff, urges those Conferences which have not established this Commission to do so as soon as possible. 

Therefore, in a spirit of fraternal Catholic communion, this Sacred Congregation desires that first of all the Bishops themselves, whether individually or united in assembly, act according to their proper right and duty to safeguard the faith and report to the same Sacred Congregation whatever they consider to be of special importance for the doctrine of the faith and morals, suggesting even those remedies that seem useful in the Lord to eventually eradicate any errors:  the above mentioned collaboration of these Commissions will be necessary in the preparation of this effort. 

In carrying out this work, there is no doubt that the professors in Catholic Universities and other experts chosen by the Bishops will be able to contribute as collaborators in this work. 

Finally, this Sacred Congregation warmly appeals to those Bishops that have publishing houses in their territory to kindly send the principle published works that are expected to have a notable influence, whether for the better or for the worse, in regards to Catholic doctrine and connected opinions. 

Rome, February 23, 1967

Cardinal A. Ottaviani