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Roman Curia

The Roman Curia is the complex of the organs and the authorities that constitute the administrative apparatus of the Holy See, coordinating and providing the necessary organisation for the correct functioning of the Roman Catholic Church and the achievement of its goals. It is generally considered as representing the government of the Church.

Curia in medieval and later Latin usage means "court" in the sense of "royal court" rather than "court of law" (though those two meanings are related in history). The Roman Curia, then, is the Papal Court, and assists the Pope in carrying out his functions.

In this sense, the Roman Curia has grown little by little in the history of Catholic Church, its importance reaching an apogee during the later times of Papacy's temporal power, de facto ended in 19th century (with the unification of Italy) and later formally too concluded in 1929 (with Lateran Pacts, or Concordato). After this act, the Curia obviously does not care any more about the administration of the Stato Pontificio (which territory has had a wide extension over current central Italy), at least due to its reduced national dimensions that would not require such an apparatus, now therefore mainly dedicated to support the Pope's action.


"In exercising supreme, full, and immediate power in the universal Church, the Roman pontiff makes use of the departments of the Roman Curia which, therefore, perform their duties in his name and with his authority for the good of the churches and in the service of the sacred pastors." (CHRISTUS DOMINUS, 9)


The following organs or charges, according to the official Vatican website ([1] (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/)), compose the Curia:

  • The Secretariat of State (Secretaria Apostolica ) - created in the 15th century, it is the dicastery of the closest assistants of the Pope. It has two sections, one for general affairs, the other for foreign affairs. [2] (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/secretariat_state/documents/rc_seg-st_12101998_profile_en)
  • The Congregations[?] [3] (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/index.htm) -
    • the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (once the Sacred Congregation of the Universal Inquisition, later Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office) ([4] (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_pro_14071997_en)),
    • The Congregation for the Oriental Churches [5] (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/orientchurch/index.htm) (once the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide[?] pro negotiis ritus orientalis)
    • The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments [6] (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/index.htm)
    • The Congregation for the Causes of Saints [7] (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/csaints/documents/rc_con_csaints_pro_20051996_en)
    • The Congregation for the Evangelization[?] of Peoples [8] (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cevang/index.htm) (better known as The Congregatio de Propaganda Fide[?])
    • The Congregation for the Clergy [9] (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cclergy/documents/rc_con_cclergy_pro_31051999_en) (born as Sacra Congregatio Cardinalium Concilii Tridentini interpretum)
    • The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life [10] (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccscrlife/documents/rc_con_ccscrlife_profile_en)
    • The Congregation for Catholic Education (for Seminaries and Educational Institutions) [11] (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_20051996_profile_en) (born as Congregatio pro universitate studii romani, then Congregatio de Seminariis et Studiorum Universitatibus)
    • The Congregation for Bishops (Congregatio pro Episcopis)
  • The Tribunals
    • The Tribunal of Penitenzieria Apostolica (internal affairs)
    • The Supreme Tribunal of Segnatura Apostolica
    • The Tribunal of the Roman Rota (better known as Sacra Rota)
  • The Pontifical Councils[?] [12] (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/index.htm)
  • The Synod of Bishops[?]
  • The Officii di Curia
    • The Apostolic Chancery
    • Apostolic Dataria
    • Apostolic Camera
    • Secretariate of State
    • Secretariate of Briefs.
  • The Pontifical Commissions [13] (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_commissions/index.htm)
  • The Swiss Guard [14] (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/swiss_guard/foto4_b.htm) [15] (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/swiss_guard/photogall.htm)
  • The Pontifical Academies[?] [16] (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_academies/index.htm)
  • The Labour office [17] (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/labour_office/index.htm)
  • Other institutions [18] (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/institutions_connected/index.htm)

See also: Politics of the Vatican City

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