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 on Friday, yesterday the second two. Today we feature the final three consisting of 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 Evangelization of Peoples
This congregation is responsible for missionary work throughout the world. That in itself makes it a very, very important and integral congregation in the Roman Curia. Cardinal Jozef Tomko of Slovakia serves as the Prefect with Bishop Marcello Zago, OMI serving as Secretary. The former is the former Superior General of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, one of the foremost of active missionary orders in the Church founded by Saint Eugene de Mazenod who the Holy Father canonized on December 3, 1995. This congregation is near and dear to the heart of the present evangelizing Pope who has been referred to as the "Pilgrim Pope." He places great emphasis on this congregation's charge to foster missionary vocations, assigning missionaries to various fields throughout the world, and organizing financial means to help pay for missionary activities. In addition it establishes ecclesiastical jurisdictions and proposes candidates to serve as bishops and other supervisory capacities in association with the orders' general houses. Attached to this congregation is a Supreme Council for the Direction of Pontifical Missionary works which includes the Missionary Union of the Clergy and Religious, the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Society of St. Peter the Apostle for Native Clergy, the International Center of Missionary Animation and the Society of the Holy Childhood.
This congregation first began as a commision of the cardinals by Pope Saint Pius V and then Pope Gregory XII as a result of the Council of Trent to oversee and promote missionary efforts in in the East and West Indies at that time as well as regulating the areas missions should be established to counteract the Reformation and Protestant influence in Europe. In 1599 Pope Clement VIII established the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith and it was blended in with this congregation but it was shortlived. In 1622 Pope Gregory XV resurrected the original congregation for missionary endeavors with his Apostolic Constitution Inscrutabili Divinae on June 22nd. It remained that way until it was reformed and brought up to current standards with the present name by Pope John Paul II on June 28, 1988.
- Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
This congregation regulates Religious and secular institutes, societies of apostolic life and third or tertiary orders also known as secular orders. Under the leadership of Spain's Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo as Prefect, this congregation oversees matters related to the establishment, general direction and suppression of the institutes as well as general discipline in accord with each respective order's rules and constitutions. It also addresses renewal and reform regarding cultural and contemporary circumstances plus open communications with principals of the orders and monitoring councils and conferences called by them.
This Sacred Congregation began on May 27, 1586 during the pontificate of Pope Sixtus V as the Congregation for Consultation of Regulars and was made official with his January 22, 1588 Apostolic Constitution Immensa. Pope Saint Pius X made it autonomous in 1908 changing the title to the Congregation of Religious and in 1967 Pope Paul VI changed the name to Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes. Finally, on June 28, 1988 in his wide-ranging reforms, Pope John Paul II gave it its present title and responsibilities.
- Congregation for Catholic Education
This congregation is oversees the competence of all Catholic scholastic institutions and Catholic education from the primary level through secondary to higher education. Under Prefect Cardinal Pio Laghi, this office deals with issues of direction, discipline and the temporal administration of seminaries, specifically diocesan formation programs for priests and deacons, and coordination with religious institues and secular institutes for higher learning. The latter is attached to the second section of this congregation which supervises universities and scholastic institutes of higher learning and coordinates the establishment of Catholic centers on secular campuses such as the Newman Centers on American campuses. The secondary and primary level has its own office in the third section of this congregation which oversees education and studies and coordinates with episcopal conferences in all regions while working with civil authorities regarding matters of education. Cardinal Laghi is also responsible for overseeing the Pontifical Works for Priestly Vocations.
This congregation has its origins on November 4, 1915 when its functions were defined by Pope Benedict XV and further defined by Pope Pius XI during his pontificate and then Pope Pius XII expanded responsibilities both in 1941 and 1949. Pope Paul VI changed the name to its present title in 1967 and it was further defined by Pope John Paul II on June 28, 1988 combining the functions of other congregations condensed into this one.
Tomorrow: the Roman Curia: The Three Tribunals