is a type of dicastery
(department with a jurisdiction) of the Roman Curia
, the central administrative organism of the Catholic Church
Each Congregation is led by a prefect, who is a Cardinal
. Until recently, a non-cardinal appointed to head a congregation was styled as pro-prefect until he was made cardinal in a consistory
. This practice has recently been abandoned.
History and functioning
Certain curial departments have been organized by the Holy See at various times to assist it in the transaction of those affairs which canonical discipline and the individual interests of the faithful bring to Rome. Of these the most important are, without doubt, the Roman Congregations (Sacræ Cardinalium Congregationes
), as is evident from the mere consideration of the dignity of their membership, comprising cardinals who are officially the chief collaborators of the sovereign pontiff in the administration of the affairs of the Universal Church, though Cardinals have not always participated in the administration of ecclesiastical affairs in the same way.
The Roman Congregations originated in the necessity, felt from the beginning, of studying the questions submitted for pontifical decision, in order to sift the legal questions arising and to establish matters of fact duly. This work, at first entrusted to the papal chaplains, was afterwards divided between the penitentiarii and the auditores, according as questions of the internal or the external forum (i.e.,... Read More