Apostolic Constitution

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A form of papal decree dealing with matters of faith and affairs of the universal Church or a sizable portion of it. It is usually written according to the formal style of a papal bull, beginning with the words Constitutio Apostolica, followed by a statement of the subject matter. Then is inscribed the name of the pope, to which is added the title Episcopus, Servus Servorum Dei and the expression Ad perpetuam rei memoriam. If the apostolic constitution deals with a dogmatic definition it is signed only by the pope as the Bishop of the Catholic Church. Otherwise, this kind of letter is signed by the cardinal chancellor, the prefect or secretary of that Congregation to whose jurisdiction the subject matter pertains, and then the protonotaries. Apostolic constitutions are published in the acta apostolicae sedis.

[j. a. forgac/eds.]