Every day we present a short point that helps bring into focus the treasures of the Roman Catholic Church that comprise the great Deposit of Faith.
It is no secret that over the past thirty years fewer and fewer know their Faith and it shows with the declining number of vocations, parish participation and attendance at Holy Mass. We have the new Catechism of the Catholic Church but for the common man, the one brought up on sound bites and instant gratification, it is more of a text book and that in itself prompts them to shy away from such a tome. So what's a loyal Catholic to do in evangelizing to fellow Catholics and understand their Faith? Our answer: go back to basics - to the great Deposit of Faith. We have the Baltimore Catechism which, for unknown and ridiculous reasons, was shelved after Vatican II. We have the Holy Bible but there are so many newer versions that the Douay-Rheims and Confraternity Latin Vulgate in English versions, the ones used for so long as the official Scriptural text authorized by the Church, seem lost in a maze of new interpretations that water down the Word. This is further complicated by the fact there are so few Douay-Rheims editions in circulation though it is available on the net at
DOUAY-RHEIMS BIBLE. We have so many Vatican documents available at the Vatican web site and other excellent Catholic resource sites that detail Doctrine, Dogma and Canon Law. We have the traditions, and the means of grace but how do we consolidate all these sources into one where it is succinct and easy to understand? We have the perfect vehicle. It is called "My Catholic Faith", now out of print, that was compiled by Bishop Louis Laravoire Morrow and published by My Mission House. This work ties in Scriptural references, the Sacraments, Dogmas, Doctrines, Traditions, Church documents, Encyclical and Papal decrees to clearly illustrate the Faith in simple, solid and concise terms that all can understand and put into practice. We will quote from this work while adding in more recent events and persons when applicable since the book was written in the late forties during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII.
Nothing in Holy Mother Church's teaching has changed and therefore we feel confident that these daily "points of enlightenment" will help more Catholics better understand their faith, especially those who were not blessed with early formation of the faith in the home and their parish school. Regardless of where any Catholic is in his or her journey toward salvation, he or she has to recognize that the Faith they were initiated into at the Sacrament of Baptism is the most precious gift they have been given in life.
THE ROMAN CURIA
As we mentioned in the last installment, the Sacred Congregations in the Roman Curia are the governing agencies of the Church. We covered the first three last installment, today we will feature the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Tomorrow we will feature the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and the Congregaton for Catholic Education.
- Congregation for the Oriental Churches
This congregation governs the persons and discipline of the Eastern Catholic Churches which covers the areas mostly concentrated in the mideast Europe, eastern Asia and northeastern Africa. This congregation, with Italian Cardinal Achille Silvestrini as Prefect, also governs Eastern Church members in communities outside the mid-east such as in America and Canada. Churches include the Armenian Catholic Church, the Byzantine Catholic Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Coptic Catholic Church, the Latin Patriarch Church, the Melkite Church, the Oriental Churches, the Syriac Catholic Church as well as allegiance to Rome by the Ethiopian Church and the Malabarese Church.
Religious organization, following political developments chiefly in Rome and Constantinople, led to the separation of first the Greek, then the Russian Orthodox Church. Within the Eastern Catholic Churches only the Maronite Church has never been in schism. With the passing of the centuries, those in schism divided and subdivided. Then, chiefly since the 16th and 17th centuries, most of them returned to full unity with the True Church. Most however, chose to practice their Holy Liturgy in the language and culture of their origin. To accommodate this Rome took measures to assure their rights for these rites.
The origin of the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches thus began during the pontificate of Pope Pius IX on January 6, 1962 with his Apostolic Constitution Romani Pontifices when it was added to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. On May 1, 1917 in the Motu Proprio Dei Providentis Pope Benedict XV created the congregation as a separate entity and Pope Pius XI further extended its authority on March 25, 1938 with his Motu Proprio Sancta Dei Ecclesia.
- Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
This congregation is headed by Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez of Chile who was appointed Prefect by John Paul II on February 21, 1998 during the Consistory where he also was welcomed into the cardinalate. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has jurisdiction over the promotion and regulation of the liturgy, especially the sacraments to make sure everything is in harmony with the rubrics and the competencies of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Attached to this congregation are special commissions that review causes of nullity or dispensations for priests and deacons and absolution from their obligations which they vowed at their ordinations.
This congregation, originally was composed of two congregations - the Congregation for Divine Worship which was instituted by Pope Paul VI on May 8, 1959 as an offshoot of the Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments created by Pope Saint Pius X on June 29, 1908. He had established it to replace the Congregation of Rites which Pope Sixtus V instituted in 1588 after the Council of Trent. Though Paul combined both Worship and Sacraments, it was John Paul II who reunited the two as it exists today in his Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus of June 28, 1988.
- Congregation for the Causes of Saints
This congregation handles all aspects of beatification and canonization of candidates as well as regulating the preservation of relics. Headed by Bishop Jose Sairava Martins, C.F.M. who has been busy since Pope John Paul II has beatified and canonized more saints than any other Sovereign Pontiff in the history of the Church including the most recent: yesterday's beatification of Bishop Anton Martin Slomsek in Slovenia.
This congregation was first created as the Congregation of Rites in the aftermath of the Council of Trent by Pope Sixtus V in 1588. Though Pope Pius IX made some modifications in 1920, Pope Paul VI made the most significant changes by defining the functions of this office with his Apostolic Constitution Sacra Rituum Congregatio in 1969 and finally revised, upgrading procedures by Pope John Paul II in 1983 with his Apostolic Constitution Divinus Perfectionis Magister.
Tomorrow: the Roman Curia: Sacred Congregations - part three