Sacred Congregation of the Council
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Sacred Congregation of the Council

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The Congregation for the Clergy (Latin: Congregatio pro Clericis; formerly the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy and Sacred Congregation of the Council) is the congregation of the Roman Curia responsible for overseeing matters regarding priests and deacons not belonging to religious orders. The Congregation for the Clergy handles requests for dispensation from active priestly ministry, as well as the legislation governing presbyteral councils and other organisations of priests around the world. The Congregation does not deal with clerical sexual abuse cases, as those are handled exclusively by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


It was first set up as the Sacra Congregatio Cardinalium pro executione et interpretatione concilii Tridentini interpretum by Pope Pius IV in the apostolic constitution Alias Nos of 2 August 1564 to oversee the proper application and observation of the disciplinary decrees of the Council of Trent throughout the Catholic Church. It was commonly known as the Sacred Congregation of the Council. Pope Sixtus V's Apostolic Constitution Immensa aeterni Dei of 22 January 1587 expanded the Congregation's functions, entrusting it with the proper interpretation of the canons of the Council of Trent, resolving controversial questions relating to it, and monitoring provincial councils. It later lost many of its powers, retaining only those relating to disciplining secular clergy, but still held onto its original name prior to Pope Paul VI's apostolic constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae of 31 December 1967, which renamed it the "Congregation for the Clergy."

By 2009, Pope Benedict XVI made the Congregation responsible for managing the guidelines concerning clergy who maintained their clerical status after violating their vows of celibacy.[1] On 25 January 2012, Pope Benedict XVI gave it responsibility for regulating Catholic seminaries, which until then was the responsibility of the Congregation for Catholic Education.[2]

In January 2013, the motu proprio Fides per doctrinam transferred the competency on Catechesis from the Congregation for the Clergy to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation.

In February 2019, Cardinal Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation, said that the Congregation manages the cases of priests who violate their vows of celibacy for approximately ten years. He said that "In such cases there are, unfortunately, Bishops and Superiors who think that, after having provided economically for the children, or after having transferred the priest, the cleric could continue to exercise the ministry."[1] In February 2020, the Congregation made public its guidelines for managing cases of priests who have fathered children. The guidelines were previously secret, though in 2019 the Congregation offered to provide then to a bishops conference upon request.[3]


Since 21 September 2013, the Prefect of the Congregation has been Cardinal Beniamino Stella.[4] The Secretary of the Congregation is the French Archbishop Joël Mercier.[5]Jorge Carlos Patrón Wong is the Secretary for Seminaries. Fr. Andrea Ripa, a former professor of matrimonial and canon law for the Higher Institute of Religious Sciences in Rimini and of the "General Norms" at the Lugano Faculty of Theology and the Pontifical Lateran University and licensed canon law and Roman Rota a lawyer, and a former judge and vicar of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal of Flaminio in Bologna, serves as the Under-Secretary.[6][7]




  1. ^ a b Stella, Beniamino (27 February 2019). "For children of priests, the good of the child comes first" (Interview). Interviewed by Andrea Tornielli. Vatican News. Retrieved 2020.
  2. ^ "Benedict XVI: New motu proprios affect seminaries, catechesis". Vatican Radio. Retrieved 2015.
  3. ^ Cairns, Madoc (10 February 2020). "Vatican guidelines for children of priests are released". The Tablet. Retrieved 2020.
  4. ^ "Vaticano, nuove nomine: Stella al Clero e Baldisseri al Sinodo". Vatican Insider (in Italian). 20 September 2013. Retrieved 2015.
  5. ^ Tornielli, Andrea (8 January 2015). "A Frenchman, 'priest educator', is the new Secretary for the Congregation for the Clergy". Vatican Insider. Retrieved 2015.
  6. ^ Brockhaus, Hannah (14 September 2017). "Pope appoints new under-secretaries to CDF and Congregation for Clergy". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 2020.
  7. ^ "Rinunce e nomine, 12.09.2017" (Press release) (in Italian). 12 September 2017. Retrieved 2020.

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