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Secretariate of Briefs to Princes and of Latin Letters
The Secretariate of Briefs to Princes and of Latin Letters, or simply the Secretariate of Briefs, was one of the offices of the Roman Curia abrogated in 1967 during Pope Paul VI's reform of the Pontifical court. It was divided into two sections.
The Secretariate of Briefs to Princes consisted of the Secretary and two office assistants. The Secretary was a prelate responsible for writing the papal briefs addressed to emperors, kings, princes, and other dignitaries. He also prepared the allocutions that the Pope pronounced at consistories, as well as encyclicals and apostolic letters addressed to bishops and the faithful. He acted according to the instructions of the Pope. He was required to be a proficient Latinist because these documents were written in Latin.
The Secretary for Latin Letters was also a prelate or private papal chamberlain ("cameriere segreto" in Italian) and was responsible for writing letters in Latin of less solemnity on behalf of the Pope. He had an office assistant.
The Latin Secretaries also played a significant part in the proceedings surrounding the death and election of the Pope; one of the two Secretaries usually pronounced the funeral oration - in Latin - for the deceased Pope, while another held an oration after the mass Pro eligendo Pontifice ('For the election of the Pope') at the beginning of the conclave. The last Secretaries to perform this task were Mgrs. Del Ton and Tondini in 1963.